The soldiers of the West African country Niger have announced a coup on national television and informed that the country’s borders are closed, BBC writes.
The soldiers arrested the President of Niger Mohamad Bazoum already on Wednesday, the 26th of July. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has promised support to Bazuma, and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has also spoken with the president and offered UN support. Niger’s president is one of the West’s main allies in the fight against Islamic militants in Africa.
Two neighboring countries of Niger –
Mali and Burkina Faso – have also experienced coups caused by jihadists in recent years.
In a televised statement, Major-Colonel Amadou Abdramane said the armed forces had decided to end the familiar regime. He added that the activities of all government institutions have been suspended and the management of the relevant ministries will follow the daily developments.
Abdramane stated that all the country’s borders are closed until the situation stabilizes, and called on foreign partners not to interfere.
After Abdramane’s statement, Blinken called for the release of the Niger president.
At a press conference in New Zealand, the US secretary of state said it looked like an attempt to seize power by force and undermine the Constitution.
In neighboring Mali, the military regime is supported by heavily armed fighters of the Wagner group. Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin, who wants to expand Russian influence in Moscow, is holding a two-day Russia-Africa summit in St. Petersburg.
Ecowas, the economic cooperation bloc of West African countries, has announced that it strongly condemns the efforts to seize power in Niger. Benin President Patrice Talon said everything would be done to restore constitutional order in Niger, but it would be best if it happened peacefully.
On the 26th of July, Bazoum’s supporters took to the streets in the capital of Niger.
Although the situation was generally relatively peaceful, pro-coup soldiers also fired shots to break up the protests.
Niger is fighting two Islamist rebel groups in the country’s southwest and southeast, and jihadist military groups linked to al-Qaeda and the Islamic State are also active. Bazoum was elected in democratic elections in 2021, and forms close cooperation with the West.
Since gaining independence from France in the 1960s, Niger has experienced four coups and countless coup attempts.
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