Niger In Crisis: Military Seizes Power, Reportedly Arrests President Bazoum

Niger’s political landscape was thrown into turmoil on Wednesday when men dressed in military fatigues claimed to have taken control of the country, just hours after President Mohamed Bazoum was reportedly detained by members of the presidential guard. The development has sparked widespread international condemnation and heightened concerns in an already volatile region of Africa, which has faced coups and militant extremism.

In a video communique, a man identified as Colonel-Major Amadou Abdramane, flanked by several apparent soldiers, declared their decision to end the existing regime, citing a deteriorating security situation and deficiencies in economic and social governance.

“We, the defence and security forces… have decided to put an end to the regime” of President Bazoum, said Abdramane, surrounded by nine other uniformed soldiers.

In response to the attempted coup, national institutions have been suspended, and the country’s land borders have been temporarily closed. The situation remains fluid, with conflicting reports and uncertainty surrounding President Bazoum’s exact whereabouts.

Niger, historically prone to military coups since gaining independence from France in 1960, had experienced a period of relative political stability in recent years. In 2021, Bazoum’s election marked the country’s first democratic transfer of power.

The broader Sahel region in Africa has been grappling with Islamist insurgencies, and Niger has received support from the United States and France in combating extremist groups. Nevertheless, the region has witnessed a rise in coup attempts, with neighboring countries like Mali and Burkina Faso also experiencing political upheavals.

International condemnation

The international community has united in condemning an apparent military takeover in Niger. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken expressed his strong disapproval and called for the immediate release of President Bazoum.

“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. We call for his immediate release,” Blinken said.

The US government is actively engaged with Niger and other regional and global partners, pledging to continue efforts until the situation is resolved peacefully and appropriately.

Amid the ongoing coup attempt in Niger, the U.S. military forces stationed at Air Base 101 near the capital city of Niamey and Air Base 201 near Agadez have reportedly been put on “lockdown.” These bases play a crucial role in U.S. counterterrorism operations in Africa.

The UN Secretary-General echoed this sentiment, strongly condemning the “unconstitutional change in government” and expressing deep concern over Bazoum’s detention by members of his presidential guard. The UN called for an immediate halt to all actions that undermine democratic principles in Niger.

Similarly, French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna vehemently denounced any endeavor to seize power forcibly, aligning Paris with regional bodies in their collective call to restore the integrity of Niger’s democratic institutions.

Prior to these condemnations, both the African Union (AU) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) had expressed their opposition to President Bazoum’s detention and made a resolute commitment to thwarting any attempts to overthrow Niger’s government, calling the act as an “attempted coup d’etat”.

Cameron Hudson, an expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, suggested that the coup might impact Niger’s fight against terrorism, as the military leadership appeared dissatisfied with the support they were receiving in tackling militant groups.

Niger, known for its high poverty rates and security challenges, faces numerous contributing factors to instability. However, the motivations behind the coup remain unclear, and the situation demands close monitoring to assess the implications on both the nation and the broader region.

As events unfold, Nigerien authorities are in intense discussions with the Presidential Guard to address the crisis. The presidential complex has been sealed off, and President Bazoum and the country’s interior minister are reportedly being held in the presidential palace.

Protesters have rallied in support of President Bazoum, but the situation remains tense and uncertain. The US Embassy in Niger has issued a cautionary statement, advising limited movements in the capital, Niamey.

Neighboring state Nigeria, led by President Bola Tinubu, serving as the current chair of ECOWAS, has vehemently condemned the developments and vowed to closely monitor the situation, affirming the regional bloc’s commitment to upholding democratic governance.

Information for this briefing was found via CNN, Aljazeera, France 24, and the sources mentioned. The author has no securities or affiliations related to this organization. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.

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