US President Joe Biden called on Thursday for the immediate release of Niger’s elected President Mohamed Bazoum and for the country’s democracy to be preserved.
“I call for President Bazoum and his family to be immediately released, and for the preservation of Niger’s hard-earned democracy,” Biden said in a statement Thursday, the 63rd anniversary of Niger’s independence.
“In this critical moment, the United States stands with the people of Niger to honor our decades-long partnership rooted in shared democratic values and support for civilian-led governance,” he said.
Bazoum, 63, was ousted a week ago by his own guard in a coup condemned by the United States, European nations and the United Nations.
“The Nigerien people have the right to choose their leaders,” Biden said. “They have expressed their will through free and fair elections — and that must be respected.”
Bazoum was feted in 2021 after winning elections that ushered in Niger’s first peaceful transition of power.
He took the helm of a country burdened by four previous coups since independence from France in 1960.
The clock is ticking on a demand made Sunday by West African regional bloc ECOWAS for the coup leaders to restore Bazoum to power within a week or face the possible “last resort” of military intervention.