Soldiers in Niger announced Wednesday night that the West African nation’s president has been removed from power, hours after they barricaded President Mohamed Bazoum in the presidential palace.
A group of soldiers appeared on the west African country’s national television late on Wednesday, a few hours after the president had been detained.
Reading from a statement, Colonel Amadou Abdramane, seated and flanked by nine other officers wearing fatigues, said the defence and security forces had decided to “put an end to the regime that you know due to the deteriorating security situation and bad governance”.
He said the country’s borders were closed and all institutions of the republic suspended and announced a national curfew. The soldiers warned against any foreign intervention, the Guardian reported.
The apparent coup was said to be led by the head of a regional political and security group.
The soldiers, including members of the presidential guard of Bazoum, were earlier said to be engaged in negotiations with the president – who was described as “safe and well” although his location was unclear.
The move by the elite guard force was quickly challenged by the wider army and national guard, who threatened to attack the presidential force unless they stepped down.
A source close to Bazoum described the move as a “fit of temper” by the elite troops, adding that “talks” were underway after the soldiers blocked access to the palace at about 6.30 am on Wednesday.
Early on Wednesday presidential guards, headed by General Omar Tchiani, took over the presidency, prompting regional leaders to organise a swift mediation mission to try to prevent a coup.
Frustrations over state failures to prevent violent attacks on towns and villages have partly spurred two coups in Mali and two in Burkina Faso since 2020. A junta also snatched power in Guinea in 2021, contributing to instability in a region that had begun to shed its reputation as a “coup belt”.
There was a thwarted coup attempt in Niger in March 2021, when a military unit tried to seize the presidential palace days before the recently elected Bazoum was due to be sworn in.
The African Union and West African regional bloc ECOWAS earlier on Wednesday condemned what they called an attempted coup d’etat.