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26 Jul, 2023 13:48

Guards block access to Niger presidential palace

'Rebels' involved in ‘anti-state’ actions have been warned that they will be attacked by national troops
Guards block access to Niger presidential palace

Soldiers from Niger's presidential guard have surrounded the president's palace in the capital, Niamey, and are holding the country's head of state, Mohamed Bazoum, inside, Reuters news agency reported on Wednesday, citing security sources.

The sources reportedly claimed that access to ministries near the presidency office has also been restricted, with staff unable to gain entry.

According to AFP, no military forces were visible in the area surrounding the presidency, traffic was normal, and no gunshots have been heard in the capital.

Bazoum was earlier thought to be in St. Petersburg with other African leaders for the Russia-Africa summit, but a source told TASS that he is not on "the lists of those who confirmed their participation."

Meanwhile, the presidency stated on Twitter (currently rebranded as X) that elements of the presidential guard made an unsuccessful attempt to gain the support of the national armed forces and the national guard in their "anti-republican” move.

State forces and the national guard are ready to attack the guards involved in the incident if they continue their action, the office of the head of state said.

The President of the Republic and his family are doing well,” it tweeted.

Although the reason for the palace seizure is unknown, it raises the possibility of a military coup in one of Africa's poorest countries, which has seen four coups since gaining independence from France in 1960.

The most recent putsch, in February 2010, deposed President Mahamadou Tandja, following the first in April 1974 against President Diori Hamani.

There have been numerous revolt attempts, the most recent occurring in March 2021, just days before the inauguration of Bazoum, who was democratically elected that same year.

The former French colony has also been plagued by jihadist insurgencies that have spread from neighboring Mali and Nigeria.

Last year, France moved troops to the Sahel nation from Mali, following troubled relations with its military rulers.

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