Mohamed Bazoum, the democratically elected president of Niger, said he is being kept isolated and forced to eat dry rice and pasta the military junta who overthrew him and are refusing to bow to international pressure to cede power.
In a series of text messages to a friend reportedly seen CNN, Bazoum said he has been “deprived of all human contact” since Friday, with no one supplying him food or medicine.
Bazoum said he has been living without electricity for a week, a normal occurrence for all Nigeriens after Nigeria cut off electric power in response to the coup.
Bazoum says all of the perishable food he was supplied with has since gone bad, and he is now eating dry pasta and rice.
Though denied the chance to speak with acting US Deputy Secretary of State Victoria Nuland during her visit to Niamey, the Nigerien capital, on Monday, Bazoum has been in contact with the outside world.
Ouhoumoudou Mahamadou, the prime minister in Bazoum’s government, told French TV that the president was in good spirits despite being held in a “catastrophic situation.”
Nuland’s meeting on Monday with senior coup leaders lasted more than two hours, consisting of “extremely frank and at times quite difficult” conversations. A Tuesday face-to-face meeting that was supposed to take place in Niamey between the junta and representatives from the United Nations, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) was canceled at short notice.
Junta leaders said in a letter that postponement of the meeting was “necessary” in “this atmosphere of threatened aggression against Niger.”
However, Mahamadou, Bazoum’s prime minister, told French state-funded broadcaster TV5-Monde that the junta would like to continue dialogue with ECOWAS, the bloc that has been leading the regional response to the political crisis in Niger.
ECOWAS leaders are due to meet on Thursday in Nigeria to discuss the coup, though specifics regarding the gathering remain unclear.
The regional bloc had given the junta one week to return to their barracks and reinstall Bazoum, but that deadline came and went on Sunday without any change.