Soldiers Announce Coup in Niger, President Muhammad Bazoum Arrested
In Niger, the Presidential Guard has taken President Muhammad Bazoum into custody and secured his residence, along with key ministries, according to BBC reports.
Soldiers of the West African country have declared a coup on national television. They stated that the constitution has been abolished, all institutions suspended, and the country's borders closed.
In a televised address, a general representing the military said, "We, the defense and security forces, have decided to put an end to the regime that you know. This is due to the deterioration in the security situation and unsatisfactory management in the economic and social sphere."
The military leader assured that the heads of ministries would continue to perform their duties.
"All foreign partners are asked not to interfere," continued the general. "Maritime and airspace borders will remain closed until the situation stabilizes."
President Muhammad Bazoum has been held by the presidential guard since Wednesday morning.
In his Thursday morning statement on Twitter, the president said, "The hard-won gains will be preserved," and assured Nigerians who cherish democracy that they will take care of it.
Foreign Minister Hassoumi Massoudou declared himself the head of state and called on all democrats "not to allow the collapse of this adventure."
President Bazoum is a key Western ally in the fight against Islamist militants in West Africa.
In the capital, Niamey, crowds took to the streets in support of the president. The situation in the city was largely peaceful, although the soldiers behind the attempted coup fired shots in an attempt to disperse the protests.
Niger is a vast, arid country on the edge of the Sahara desert and one of the poorest nations in the world.
In two neighboring countries, Mali and Burkina Faso, military coups have also occurred in recent years, sparked by jihadist uprisings. In both countries, the new military leaders clashed with France, the former colonial power that also previously ruled Niger.
The African Union, the UN, the EU, and the US have condemned the actions of the military.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken promised "unwavering support" from Washington.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres also said he had spoken with the president and offered the UN's full support to the uranium-rich country.
Ukraine strongly condemned the coup in the Republic of Niger and is closely monitoring further developments.
Niger, a former French colony and a significant exporter of uranium, accounting for 5% of global production, has been a crucial Western ally in the fight against insurgents and illegal migration from countries south of the Sahara.
The military seizure of power in Niger is the seventh coup in the region in the past three years. According to analysts, the coup may create opportunities for Russia and other states to expand their influence in Niger and the region as a whole. The likely leader of the junta in Niger is said to be Modibo Salif, who has contacts with the junta in Mali, which, in turn, has been known for its cooperation with the Wagner PMC.