(Reuters) -Niger’s ousted president Mohamed Bazoum was toppled by a military junta on July 26. The imprisoned leader faces possible high treason charges over his exchanges with foreign heads of state and international organisations, coup leaders have said.
Below are some details about Bazoum and his rise and fall from power:
Bazoum, 63, served as foreign minister and interior minister under his predecessor Mahamadou Issoufou, who stepped down after two five-year terms and handpicked Bazoum as the ruling party’s presidential candidate.
Bazoum’s victory in the 2021 election led to Niger’s first transition from one democratically elected leader to another. It had previously experienced four coups since gaining independence from France in 1960.
Bazoum inherited a security crisis and pledged to continue with Issoufou’s policies for combating Islamist violence and tackling poverty in one of the world’s least developed countries.
Niger touches two of Africa’s bloodiest conflicts – one near its western border with Mali and Burkina Faso, where jihadists linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State are active, and another near its southeastern border with Nigeria, where Boko Haram operates.
Niger strengthened its alliances with Western powers under Bazoum, becoming a hub for French, U.S., German and Italian forces.
Leaders of the coup in Niger cited persistent insecurity as justification for Bazoum’s overthrow, but data on attacks and casualties show that security had been improving thanks to tactics used by Bazoum’s government and help from the foreign forces based there.
The July 26 coup is linked to tensions between Bazoum and parts of the Nigerien military, according to the International Crisis Group.
Days before Bazoum was sworn in as president in 2021, a military unit tried to seize the presidential palace in an attempted coup.
More recently, Bazoum’s move to sideline a number of senior people in both the military and public administration was a key driver of the mutiny led by the head of his powerful presidential guard, General Abdourahamane Tiani, people familiar with the matter told Reuters.
Since his overthrow, Bazoum has been held by the new military authorities in what his party has described as inhumane conditions, without access to running water, electricity, or fresh goods. His wife and son were also detained with him.
Regional and global powers have called for his release including West Africa’s main regional bloc, the United Nations, and United States.
On August 13, the junta said it had gathered the necessary evidence to prosecute Bazoum for high treason and undermining the internal and external security of Niger.
(Reporting by Alessandra Prentice; Editing by Angus MacSwan)