1 of 3 | Niger President Mohamed Bazoum used a Washington Post op-ed written "as a hostage" to call on the U.S. to help end the military coup that deposed him. File Photo by Jemal Countess/UPI | License Photo
Aug. 4 (UPI) -- Niger's democratically-elected president, Mohamed Bazoum, called on the United States to help end a military coup that has left him "as a hostage."
Bazoum warned in a Washington Post op-ed Thursday that Niger is under attack from a military junta and he is just one of hundreds of citizens who have been "arbitrarily and illegally imprisoned" while calling on the United States to help his nation restore "constitutional order."
"This coup, launched against my government by a faction in the military on July 26, has no justification whatsoever," Bazoum wrote. "If it succeeds, it will have devastating consequences for our country, our region and the entire world."
Bazoum, who was elected in 2021, said Niger "stands as the last bastion of respect for human rights amid the authoritarian movements that have overtaken some of our neighbors."
He accused the coup leaders of employing "criminal Russian mercenaries such as the Wagner Group at the expense of their people's rights and dignity and said without U.S. aid "the entire central Sahel region could fall to Russian influence."
President Joe Biden Thursday called for Bazoum's release a day after the State Department ordered all U.S. personnel and their families to evacuate the U.S. Embassy in Niger.
France, the European Union and the Economic Community of West African States have all called for Bazoum to be reinstated as the elected leader of Niger.
ECOWAS demanded on July 30 that Bazoum be immediately released and restored to office with full restoration of Niger's constitutional order. The 15-nation group said if that isn't done within one week ECOWAS would "take all measures necessary to restore constitutional order in the Republic of Niger."
A West African diplomatic mission Friday seeking Bazoum's release and reinstatement failed, risking a military intervention by West African nations.
The Niger military coup leaders have indicated they would resist any military effort to end their coup.
President Bazoum was seized in an illegal military coup led by the nation's presidential guards last Friday.
Gen. Abdourahmane Tchiani, leader of the guards, declared himself the new leader of the country.