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Colonel Major Amadou Abdramane (C), spokesperson for the National Committee for the Salvation of the People (CNSP), speaking during a televised statement in Niger.

Soldiers in Niger Announce Coup on National TV

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A group of soldiers claimed on national television in Niger on Wednesday that the country’s President Mohamed Bazoum has been removed from power.

“We, the defense and security forces … decided to put an end to the regime,” said Colonel Amadou Abdramane, shown seated and flanked by nine other officers wearing fatigues, reading a statement. His statement also mentioned “the deteriorating security situation and bad governance.”

Abdramane said all institutions of the republic are suspended, that the country’s borders are closed, and a nationwide curfew declared.

READ MORE about security issues in Niger

The soldiers warned against foreign intervention and said they would respect Bazoum’s well-being, Reuters reported. The Associated Press reported that it was unclear where Bazoum was at the time of the announcement or if he had resigned.

Hours earlier, members of Niger’s presidential guard surrounded the presidential palace in what African organizations called an attempted coup against Bazoum, the country’s democratically elected leader.

Niger’s capital, Niamey, remained calm as the situation unfolded Wednesday, though the U.S. Embassy has advised people in the city to limit unnecessary movements and avoid travel along the Rue de la Republique, where the palace is located.

The United States joined African leaders in calling for the release of Bazoum, who was being held inside the country’s presidential palace by members of his presidential guard.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken called for the immediate release of Bazoum late Wednesday. Earlier, he had said on Twitter, the social media site rebranded as X, that he has spoken with Bazoum.

“The U.S. condemns efforts to subvert Niger’s constitutional order by force and underscores that our partnership depends on the continuation of democratic governance,” he said.

National security adviser Jake Sullivan released a statement that said the United States is deeply concerned about developments in Niger.

“We strongly condemn any effort to detain or subvert the functioning of Niger’s democratically elected government, led by President Bazoum,” Sullivan said in the statement. “We specifically urge elements of the presidential guard to release President Bazoum from detention and refrain from violence.”

The West African bloc ECOWAS also condemned the events in Niger and called on what it described as coup plotters to free the president “immediately and without any condition.”

The statement from ECOWAS, known formally as the Economic Community of West African States, vowed to hold those involved in the plot responsible for the safety of the president, his family, members of the government and the general public.

Others condemning the apparent coup attempt included the chairman of the African Union commission, Faki Mahamat, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and former colonial power France, which has about 1,500 soldiers in Nigerhelping the government battle Islamist militants.

A map of Niger with the capital city, Niamey, highlighted.
A map of Niger with the capital city, Niamey, highlighted.

U.N. spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said Guterres had spoken to President Bazoum on Wednesday afternoon.

Guterres condemned “in the strongest terms any effort to seize power by force and to undermine democratic governance, peace and stability,” Dujarric said, adding, Guterres called “on all actors involved to exercise restraint and to ensure the protection of constitutional order.”

Local journalist Ousseini Issa told VOA’s French to Africa service the situation in Niamey is “confusing.”

“At first, the presidency was out of reach, including for agents who work there,” Issa said. “Then we got the news that soldiers based in Ouallam, about 100 kilometers from Niamey … have come to Niamey. The whole presidential area is cordoned off, all services are closed.”

Niger’s presidential administration said elements of the presidential guard launched what it called an anti-republican movement on Wednesday morning and “tried in vain to obtain the support of the National Armed Forces and the National Guard.”

Abdoul Aziz Garba Birimaka, Niger’s presidential special security adviser, told VOA’s French to Africa service the main question is what led to the attempted coup.

“Indeed, that is the question, what led us to this extreme? What is happening? Why? … How could all this have happened without any suspicions as we learn that someone who is supposed to protect is now holding you (against your will),” Birimak said. “Those are many questions that remain unanswered for the moment.”

The West African state is one of the region’s most unstable, experiencing four military coups since gaining independence from France in 1960, and a number of unsuccessful coup attempts.

Elements of the military launched a failed coup d’etat two days before Bazoum’s inauguration in April 2021.

Reported by VOA. Carol Van Dam Falk and the French to Africa service contributed to this report. 

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