The coup-toppled president of Niger has appealed to the West African bloc’s court to free him, his lawyer said on Wednesday.
Mohamed Bazoum was overthrown by the military on July 26 and has been detained at home with his wife and child since.
He filed a lawsuit with a court of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) on September 18, said his Senegalese lawyer Seydou Diagne.
The lawsuit invokes 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 handing over power to President Bazoum, who must continue to exercise it until the end of his mandate.”
As well as slapping hefty sanctions against Niger, ECOWAS has warned that it could intervene militarily in Niger if diplomatic efforts to return Bazoum to power fail.
Niger’s coup took place in a region wracked by a jihadist insurgency, following overthrows in neighbouring Mali and Burkina Faso.
If the court rules in favour of Bazoum, “Niger has the legal obligation to execute 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’s position and made a fresh call “for the immediate and unconditional release” of Bazoum and his family.
“The EU position is clear and unchanged: the EU does not recognise authorities emanating from the putsch. President Bazoum remains the sole legitimate president of Niger,” EU foreign affairs spokeswoman Nabila Massrali said.
The remarks came a day after the EU ambassador to Niamey, Salvador Pinto da Franca, was summoned by Niger’s military-appointed Prime Minister Ali Mahaman Lamine Zeine.