Soldiers in Niger claim to have overthrown President Mohamed Bazoum

11 months ago 14

DEVELOPING STORY,

Group of soldiers appear on national television to announce the toppling of Bazoum’s government as US calls for the president’s ‘immediate release’.

Published On 26 Jul 2023

Soldiers in Niger claimed to have removed President Mohamed Bazoum from power late on Wednesday, hours after members of the presidential guard detained the politician at his official residence.

In a statement broadcast on national television, Colonel-Major Amadou Abdramane said “the defence and security forces … have decided to put an end to the regime you are familiar with”.

“This follows the continuous deterioration of the security situation, the bad social and economic management.”

The soldier said the country’s borders were closed and declared a nationwide curfew. All institutions of the country were also suspended, he added.

Abdramane was seated and flanked by nine other officers wearing fatigues as he read out his statement. The group, which is calling itself National Council for the Safeguarding of the Country, warned against any foreign intervention.

The announcement came after a day of uncertainty as members of Niger’s presidential guard held Bazoum after surrounding the presidential palace. It was unclear where the president was at the time of the announcement or if he had resigned.

The United States immediately called for Bazoum’s release.

“I spoke with President Bazoum earlier this morning and made clear that the United States resolutely supports him as the democratically elected president of Niger,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told reporters in New Zealand.

“We call for his immediate release,” he added.

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.

It said Bazoum and his family were doing well but that Niger’s army and national guard “are ready to attack” if those involved in the action did not back down.

The commissions of the African Union and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) described the events as an effort to unseat Bazoum, who was elected president two years ago in the nation’s first peaceful, democratic transfer of power since its independence from France in 1960.

Nigerian President Bola Tinubu, who was selected this month as the ECOWAS Commission’s chairman, said the regional bloc’s leadership would resist any attempt to unseat Niger’s government.

“It should be quite clear to all players in the Republic of Niger that the leadership of the ECOWAS region and all lovers of democracy around the world will not tolerate any situation that incapacitates the democratically elected government of the country,” Tinubu said in a statement he issued in Abuja.

“We will do everything within our powers to ensure democracy is firmly planted, nurtured, well rooted and thrives in our region.”

Al Jazeera’s Mike Hanna, reporting from Washington DC, said the developments in Niger were of great concern to the US.

“They have two drone bases in Niger. They also have about 800 troops, some of whom are understood to be special forces who have been training the Nigerian military,” said Hanna.

“Essentially, Niger is the last US ally left standing in that particular region of the world. Governments in neighbouring Mali, Burkina Faso have been toppled in military coups, and both of these countries have expelled the French soldiers who were there and have turned to Russian backed forces for protection. So this is something that the US knows and has been watching with great concern, and that this could possibly be the next step in what is happening in Niger,” he added.

Source

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Al Jazeera and news agencies

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