West African Court Orders Immediate Release and Reinstatement of Ousted Niger President

A West African court has ruled that the ousted president of Niger, Mohamed Bazoum, and his family were arbitrarily detained during a military coup on July 26. The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Court of Justice, sitting in Abuja, called for Bazoum’s immediate and unconditional release and urged his reinstatement to restore constitutional order.

Bazoum has been in detention with his family since the coup, which drew widespread condemnation and led to sanctions imposed by ECOWAS. The court’s judge, Gberi-Be Ouattara, emphasized the violation of constitutional rights and ordered Niger’s junta to re-establish constitutional order through Bazoum’s reinstatement.

Niger, currently suspended from ECOWAS, faces economic challenges due to sanctions and suspended trade. The ECOWAS leaders previously stated that any easing of punitive measures against Niger depended on a “short transition” period, while the military leaders proposed a longer transition of up to three years.

The ECOWAS Court of Justice’s order comes as the ruling military in Niger agreed to terms and conditions for a transition back to civilian rule. The details of the transition plan, endorsed by Togo Foreign Minister Robert Dussey, will be presented to the heads of state and the ECOWAS Commission. The court’s decision aligns with international calls for the restoration of democratic rule in Niger.

While the Nigerien military government had also filed a suit in November seeking the lifting of ECOWAS sanctions, the court denied this request. The situation remains fluid as regional leaders navigate negotiations for a stable transition and the potential lifting of sanctions against the economically strained nation.

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