Military group in Niger claim to have overthrown president

11 months ago 31

A group of soldiers in Niger have claimed to have put an end to the government, hours after detaining President Mohamed Bazoum in the presidential palace.

Appearing on national television in the West African nation, air force colonel, Amadou Abdramane, and nine other uniformed officers said defence and security forces had decided to "put an end to the regime".

He cited a "deteriorating security situation and bad governance" as the reason for the attempted coup.

They urged against any foreign intervention and said all institutions had been suspended, borders had been closed, and a nationwide curfew put in place.

It comes a day after members of Niger's presidential guard surrounded the palace and detained President Bazoum.

President Mohamed Bazoum

Image: President Mohamed Bazoum was elected in 2021. Pic:AP

The situation has been condemned by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who visited Niger in March in an attempt to strengthen ties with the country.

He said he strongly supported the "democratically elected president" and that he was in close contact with officials in Africa and France.

Mr Bazoum was elected two years ago in the nation's first peaceful, democratic transfer of power since its independence from France in 1960. He remains a key ally in efforts from the West to stabilise Africa's Sahel region, which has been plagued by coups in recent years.

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Both Mali and Burkina Faso have had four coups since 2020, and are being overrun by extremists linked to al Qaeda and the Islamic State group.

Earlier on Wednesday, a tweet from the account of Niger's presidency reported that members of the elite guard unit engaged in an "anti-Republican demonstration" and unsuccessfully tried to obtain support from other security forces.

Supporters of Nigerien President Mohamed Bazoum

Image: Supporters of Nigerien President Mohamed Bazoum. Pic:AP

Supporters of Nigerien President Mohamed Bazoum

Image: Pic:AP

It said Mr Bazoum and his family were doing well and Niger's army and national guard "are ready to attack" if those involved in the action did not back down.

Hundreds of people also took to the streets in support for the president. They could be heard chanting "no coup d'etat" before multiple rounds of gunfire came from the palace, dispersing the protesters.

The US urged for Mr Bazoum's release, while the European Union, United Nations, France and others condemned the uprising and said they were following the events with concern.

Meanwhile, Nigerian president, Bola Tinubu, who was selected as the Economic Community of West African States Commission's chairman this month, said leadership of the regional group would resist any attempt to unseat Niger's government.

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