The new military rulers of Niger, who took over government in a coup last week, have detained at least l80 members of the ousted democratically elected administration, the previous ruling party said on Monday.
Energy Minister Mahamane Sani Mahamadou, Mines Minister Ousseini Hadizatou and the president of the Nigerien Party for Democracy and Socialism (PNDS), Foumakoye Gado, were among those detained, PNDS spokesman Hamid N’Gadé said.
He added that Interior Minister Hama Adamou Souley, Transport Minister Oumarou Malam Alma and his deputy, Kalla Moutari, were also detained by the coup plotters.
The “abusive arrests” were evidence of “the repressive, dictatorial and unlawful behaviour” of the military, N’Gadé said.
On Wednesday, officers from General Omar Tchiani’s elite unit declared Niger’s democratically elected president Mohamed Bazoum, of the PNDS, out of power.
Tchiani then appointed himself as the new ruler on Friday.
Shortly afterwards, the coup plotters suspended the West African country’s constitution and dissolved all constitutional institutions.
The coup has been internationally condemned.
The West African community of states ECOWAS issued an ultimatum to the coup leaders on Sunday saying that if Bazoum was not released and reinstated within a week, ECOWAS would take measures that could include the use of force.
On Monday, the military governments of neighbouring Burkina Faso and Mali warned ECOWAS against intervening.
Any military intervention against Niger would be tantamount to a declaration of war against Burkina Faso and Mali, a joint statement by the two transitional governments said.
Military intervention could have disastrous consequences that could de-stabilise the entire sub-region, they said.
Burkina Faso and Mali are themselves ECOWAS members.
The European Union (EU) said it supported the ECOWAS measures, EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell said in a statement on Monday.
Bazoum remains the sole head of state of the country and any other authority cannot be recognised, Borrell said.
Up until the coup, Niger, a former French colony, was seen as an anchor of democracy in the Sahel region, which has been ravaged by Islamist terrorism. (dpa/NAN)