Bazoum’s lawyer has asked the ECOWAS court to order Niger’s military rulers to end his “arbitrary arrest” and hand over power to him.
Niger’s president, overthrown in a coup, has appealed to an Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) court to release him, his lawyer said on Wednesday.
Mohamed Bazoum was deposed by members of his presidential guard on July 26 and has since been held at home with his wife and child.
He filed a lawsuit on September 18 in the West African bloc’s court in Abuja, the Nigerian capital, said his Senegalese lawyer Seydou Diagne.
The lawsuit alleges his “arbitrary arrest” and “violation of freedom of movement,” Diagne said.
“We request… in view of the violation of political rights, that the State of Niger be ordered to immediately restore constitutional order by transferring power to President Bazoum, who should continue to exercise it until the end of his mandate.”
ECOWAS, which has imposed sanctions on Niger, has warned it could intervene militarily in Niger if diplomatic efforts to return Bazoum to power fail, as a last resort.
Niger’s coup took place in a region wracked by violence from armed groups, following overthrows in neighboring Mali and Burkina Faso. In September, the three countries signed a mutual defense pact to become the Alliance of Sahel States and help each other against possible threats of armed rebellion or external aggression.
If the court rules in favor of Bazoum, “Niger has a legal obligation to implement the decision,” Diagne said.
Niger’s coup leaders have declared their intention to “prosecute” the democratically elected Bazoum for “high treason and undermining internal and external security.”
On Wednesday, the European Union (EU) reiterated its support for ECOWAS’ position and issued a new call “for the immediate and unconditional release” of Bazoum and his family.
“The EU’s position is clear and unchanged: the EU does not recognize authorities arising from the coup. President Bazoum remains the only legitimate president of Niger,” said EU Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Nabila Massrali.
The comments came a day after the EU ambassador to Niamey, Salvador Pinto da Franca, was summoned by Niger’s military-appointed Prime Minister Ali Mahamane Lamine Zeine.