Niger, a West African nation known for its strategic role in combating terrorism, was thrown into turmoil as soldiers executed a coup on Wednesday. The coup has overthrown the government and suspended democratic institutions. The nation’s borders have been closed, and President Mohamed Bazoum has been detained by the military since the early hours of Wednesday.
Col Maj Amadou Abdramane, alongside nine other uniformed soldiers, announced the coup and outlined its motivations on national TV. The coup leaders justified their actions by expressing their intention to put an end to the existing regime and to address concerns about governance and national security.
Following the announcement, international reactions poured in.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken condemned the soldiers’ TV announcement and called for President Bazoum’s release. He said that the announcement was an attempt to seize power by force and disrupt the country’s Constitution. Blinken assured President Bazoum of Washington’s “unwavering support” during a phone call, pointing out the longstanding partnership between the two nations in the fight against terrorism.
Similarly, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres offered the UN’s full support to President Bazoum after engaging in discussions with the detained leader.
Neighbouring countries, Mali and Burkina Faso, have previously experienced coups sparked by militant uprisings in recent years, further escalating regional tensions. In both Mali and Burkina Faso, military-led governments have confronted France, the former colonial power that once governed Niger.
As a consequence of the coup, all of Niger’s institutions have been suspended, and day-to-day affairs will be managed by the ministries’ heads. The soldiers emphasised that during this period, external partners should respect their request to refrain from interfering in the country’s affairs, as they strive to stabilise the situation.
In a bid to tighten control and maintain order, the coup leaders closed Niger’s land and air borders. Additionally, a night curfew has been implemented, taking effect from 22:00 until 05:00 local time until further notice.
The soldiers leading the coup identified themselves as acting on behalf of the National Council for the Safeguard of the Homeland (CNSP).
Prior to the coup announcement on national TV, heavily armed forces loyal to President Bazoum were strategically stationed around the national broadcaster in Niamey.
The group of soldiers, including members of President Bazoum’s presidential guard, are said to be in talks with the president. Bazoum is reportedly “safe and well,” although his location was not disclosed. An official from the Niger presidency said that staff inside the palace could not enter their offices. A statement issued by the presidency on Twitter suggested that the presidential guard had tried to gain the support of some armed forces members for their actions.
Niger faces two major insurgencies, one in the southwest and another in the southeast. The insurgencies have been ongoing for several years and cause widespread displacement and instability. The Nigerien military receives training and logistical support from the United States and France, which have military bases in the country.
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