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27 Jul, 2023 08:10

African state’s military claims president has been overthrown

Soldiers in Niger have declared a curfew and border closures, in a televised address
African state’s military claims president has been overthrown

Niger’s top military officers have declared a coup in which President Mohamed Bazoum has been removed from power and all state institutions suspended.

“We have decided to put an end to the regime that you know, due to the continued deterioration of the security situation, and poor economic and social governance,” Colonel Amadou Abdramane announced in a short statement on national television late on Wednesday.

Abdramane, who was surrounded by a group of other high-ranking officers, including the commanders of the presidential guard and special forces, said the West African nation’s borders have been closed, and a nationwide curfew is in place.

He warned that the military is ready to resist any attempts by foreign powers to interfere in the country.

Abdramane also gave assurances that the human rights of the president and members of his government will be respected.

According to media reports, Bazoum was blockaded inside his residence in the capital, Niamey, early on Wednesday by members of his own security detail. French-language news website Jeune Afrique earlier reported that the coup may have been provoked by the head of state’s plans to dismiss the commander of the presidential guard, General Omar Tchiani.

On Thursday, Niger’s Foreign Minister Hassoumi Massoudou insisted in an interview with France24 that “the legal and legitimate power is the one exercised by the elected President of Niger, Mohamed Bazoum.”

He confirmed that the president, who took office in April 2021, was detained, but said he remained “in good health.”

Massoudou also issued several messages on Twitter (recently rebranded as X), saying: “a coup attempt has been underway in Niger.” He suggested that the plot by the military leaders “will fail because it will come up against the outcry of democratic forces everywhere in Niger.”

White House National Security adviser Jake Sullivan earlier called upon the presidential guard to release President Bazoum from detention and refrain from violence. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has also condemned what he called an “effort to seize power by force,” urging all sides to show restraint.

Niger has been through four military coups since gaining independence from France in 1960. The latest was in 2010, in which then-president Mamadou Tandja was deposed.

The country is seen as an important ally of the West in tackling jihadist groups in the Sahel region. Last year, France moved its troops to Niger from Mali after the military came to power.