On Thursday, November 30, 2023, family members of the deposed Nigerien president, Mohamed Bazoum, raised concerns, asserting that they have had no contact with him, his wife Khadija Mabrouk, and their son Salem since October 18. The family disclosed their distress over what they described as “abusive arrests and searches” targeting certain family members, particularly noting the alleged hostage situation involving President Bazoum’s son by the presidential guard.
A press release issued by the Bazoum family, consulted by AFP, conveyed the worrisome situation, stating, “Since October 18, we have had no news from President Bazoum, his wife Khadija Mabrouk, and their son Salem, taken hostage by the presidential guard.”
Following the military coup that ousted President Bazoum on July 26, he, along with his wife and son, has reportedly been confined to his presidential residence. The family’s press release further outlined concerns about “abusive arrests and searches by military authorities” targeting various members of their family.
During a press conference, Ould Salem Said, the family’s lawyer, expressed unease about the apparent focus on President Bazoum’s family and raised concerns about procedural irregularities in legal proceedings against them.
“We have noted a certain fixation on the family of President Bazoum and a certain violation of all procedural rules when it comes to initiating proceedings against its members,” remarked Ould Salem Said.
The lawyer highlighted instances where the homes of a niece of Mohamed Bazoum and another relative were reportedly subjected to searches in Niamey on Tuesday.
Adding to the family’s distress, Ali Bey Mahjoub, a banking sector executive and uncle of President Bazoum, was reportedly kidnapped by unidentified armed elements on Sunday. The family’s lawyer announced that a formal complaint had been filed with the prosecution, citing charges of “kidnapping, kidnapping, and arbitrary detention” in connection with this incident.
Furthermore, on November 9, Ali Mabrouk, a traditional chief and brother of Mr. Bazoum’s wife, was reportedly arrested by gendarmes in Zinder (south) and placed in police custody. The family’s lawyer expressed concern, noting that those detained might be referred to the Military Tribunal.
Since the military coup, Niger has been under the rule of a military regime led by General Abdourahamane Tiani. Following the coup, several dignitaries from the former regime, including ministers and deputies, were incarcerated in various prisons across the country.
In the aftermath of the coup, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) had threatened military intervention to reinstate President Bazoum in office, though such intervention did not materialize. ECOWAS also imposed substantial economic and financial sanctions against Niger.