After hours of being detained by members of the presidential guard at the politician’s official mansion, soldiers in Niger claimed to have ousted President Mohamed Bazoum from office late on Wednesday.
Colonel-Major Amadou Abdramane declared on national television that “the defence and security forces… have decided to put an end to the regime you are familiar with.”
“This is a result of the poor social and economic management and the ongoing deterioration of the security situation.”
The soldier said that a nationwide curfew was in effect and that the nation’s borders were closed. Additionally suspended were all national institutions, he said.
Nine more officers in fatigues surrounding Abdramane as he read out his statement while he was seated. The organization, which refers to itself as the National Council for the Safeguarding of the Country, issued a caution against any outside interference.
The declaration followed a day of ambiguity during which the Niger presidency claimed that members of the elite guard unit were participating in a “anti-Republican demonstration” and news organizations claimed that Bazoum was being held at the palace by the mutinous forces.
The location of the president at the time of Abdramane’s declaration and whether or not he had resigned were unknown.
“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 said to reporters in New Zealand.
We demand his immediate release, he declared.
The military coup, the sixth in West and Central Africa since 2020, could make it more difficult for the West to assist Sahelian nations in their struggle against armed organizations with ties to al-Qaeda and ISIS (ISIL).
The former French colony of Niger, which is a landlocked nation, is a crucial ally for Western nations aiming to counter armed organizations. It also works closely with the European Union to combat irregular migration from sub-Saharan Africa.
The US and its allies are quite concerned about the events in Niger, according to Al Jazeera’s Mike Hanna, who is reporting from Washington, DC.
“In Niger, there are two US drone bases. They have 800 soldiers total, some of whom, according to Hanna, are special forces who have been educating the Nigerian military.
“In essence, Niger is the sole remaining US ally in that part of the world. Following military takeovers of their governments, Mali and Burkina Faso, which are neighbors, have both ejected the French troops stationed there and turned to forces backed by Russia for security. The US is aware of this and has been closely monitoring it because it might potentially be the next development in what is happening in Niger, he continued.
In the meantime, the alleged coup was condemned by the United Nations.