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Military Coup in Niger: what's happening and how the world reacts

Military Coup in Niger: what's happening and how the world reacts President of Niger Mohamed Bazoum(Photo: Getty Images)

In the Republic of Niger, members of the presidential guard staged a coup d'état and announced the overthrow of President Mohamed Bazoum's government.

In the Republic of Niger, members of the presidential guard staged a coup d'état and announced the overthrow of President Mohamed Bazoum's government.

Events unfolding

On Wednesday, July 26, presidential guard members blocked access to Niger President Mohamed Bazoum's residence. Some media outlets reported an attempted coup.

"We, the Defense and Security Forces, have decided to end President Bazoum's regime," the military stated in a video address.

The soldiers warned against foreign intervention and said they would respect Bazoum's life and health.

The Presidential Guard is led by Omar Chiani, who previously served under Mahamadou Issoufou, the former President of Niger.

"According to a regional military source, the head of state of Niger is currently held hostage by the coup plotters in his residence in Niamey. The number of coup plotters at the time of writing remains unknown. Another source close to the President's administration claims that Mohammed Bazoum is "alive and well" and is "engaged in negotiations" with the soldiers involved in the takeover," reported Jeune Afrique.

However, the negotiations with the presidential security detail failed. Meanwhile, the country's army did not support the coup plotters. The coup plotters refused to release Bazoum.

In the wake of the attempted coup in Niger, neighboring countries have dispatched a mediation mission to address the situation.

According to Benin's President Talon, he is heading to Niger to assess the situation following a meeting with his Nigerian counterpart and the head of the West African bloc ECOWAS, Bola Tinubu.

Earlier on the same day, the President of Niger issued a statement mentioning that the presidential guard had "uselessly" launched an "anti-republican" movement, which was later thwarted. The army is prepared to attack the insurgents if they do not cease.

Later on national television in Niger, the military announced they had toppled President Mohamed Bazoum's government.

In their statement, the Nigerian military said they took power due to the deterioration of security in the country and "the bad economic and social governance," as reported by The Associated Press.

The military also stated that all institutions in the country have been closed, and the situation in Niger is under the control of security forces. The military's address urges external partners not to interfere in the case.

Additionally, the military announced the closure of the country's airspace and land borders and imposed a curfew.

What is known about Mohamed Bazoum?

President Mohamed Bazoum was elected in 2021. He is considered a vital ally of the West in the fight against Islamist militants in West Africa.

Mohamed Bazoum made history in the West African country as the first leader to have power peacefully transferred to him by his predecessor after winning the 2021 elections.

Since gaining independence from France in 1960, Niger has witnessed four successful coups and several unsuccessful attempts to overthrow the government. Military leaders have mainly governed the country throughout its history.

A few days before Bazoum was due to be sworn in, there was also an attempted coup, but it failed.

World's reaction

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), currently led by Nigeria, released a statement expressing "shock and dismay" over the news of the "attempted coup d'état."

"ECOWAS categorically condemns the attempt to seize power by force and calls on the conspirators to immediately and unconditionally release the democratically elected President of the Republic," the statement signed by Nigeria's President Bola Tinubu stated.

They emphasized that ECOWAS and the international community would hold all participants in the conspiracy accountable for the safety of the President, his family, government members, and the general public.

The United States of America also condemned the coup attempt in Niger and called for the release of Bazoum.

"The U.S. condemns attempts to undermine Niger's constitutional order and underscores that our partnership depends on the continuation of democratic governance," U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken wrote on Twitter.

The EU's chief diplomat, Josep Borrell, expressed that he is "very concerned about the events unfolding in Niamey."

"The EU condemns all attempts to destabilize democracy and threaten Niger's stability," he said, adding that the EU also supports the ECOWAS communiqué.

Germany's Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson stated at a press briefing on Wednesday that "it is still too early to assess the situation."

"We are in contact both with our embassy there and international partners. And if necessary, we will, of course, take appropriate measures," she said.

According to her, German troops in Niger as part of an international mission to combat Islamist insurgents are "currently safe," the situation will be assessed in the coming days.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres "strongly condemned any attempt to seize power by force and undermine democratic governance, peace, and stability," according to his spokesperson, Stéphane Dujarric.

Guterres called on "all parties to exercise restraint and ensure the protection of constitutional order."

Ukraine's Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated that the country firmly condemns the coup attempt in the Republic of Niger and closely monitors further developments.