UN chief condemns coup attempt in Niger

By Cecilia Ologunagba


The UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has strongly condemned an attempted coup in Niger.

According to news reports, the officers seized President Mohamed Bazoum and blockaded his residence in the capital Niamey on Wednesday.

This development had led to the African Union Commission Chair, to describe their actions as “tantamount to an attempted coup d’etat” – although there have been no reports so far of gunfire.

The plotters have reportedly not gained support from other elements of the military or security forces but talks to secure the president’s release have been unsuccessful so far.

Moussa Faki condemned the military “acting in total betrayal of their republican duty”, urging the “felon soldiers” to return to their barracks.

Guterres, in a statement by his Spokesperson Stephane Dujarric, said he was following the evolving situation in Niger closely.

“He condemns in the strongest terms any effort to seize power by force and to undermine democratic governance, peace and stability in Niger.

“The secretary-general calls on all actors involved to exercise restraint and to ensure the protection of constitutional order.’’

The UN said it would always stand by the Government and the people of Niger.

The neighbouring countries of Mali and Burkina Faso, have both experienced military coups in the past few years, in the wake of growing jihadist insurgencies which have destabilized the entire region.

There are two militant groups allied to both al-Qaeda and ISIL operating within Niger itself, one which crossed the border with Mali eight years ago, and the other from a base in northeast Nigeria.

There have been four coups since Niger gained independence from France in 1960, the last occurring in 2010.

NAN reports that a group of soldiers who appeared on Niger’s national television late on Wednesday say President Bazoum has been removed from power.

Reading from a statement, Col. Amadou Abdramane, seated and flanked by nine other officers, said 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.”

The announcement came hours after the president was held in the presidential palace.

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

The soldiers warned against any foreign intervention, adding that they will respect Bazoum’s wellbeing.

The military takeover, which marks the seventh coup in the West and Central Africa region since 2020, could further complicate Western efforts to help countries in the Sahel region fight a jihadist insurgency that has spread from Mali over the past decade.

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.

The president of neighbouring Benin, Patrice Talon, flew into Niger on Wednesday afternoon to assess the situation after meeting with Nigerian President and ECOWAS Chairman Bola Tinubu.

NAN report that Tinubu says the regional body will not accept any form of undemocratic government in West Africa.

In a message he personally signed and issued on Wednesday, the ECOWAS Chairman said there were unpleasant reports of an attempt to destabilize the elected government of Niger Republic adding that this would be accepted.

He said: Information filtering in from the Republic of Niger indicates some unpleasant developments around the country’s highest political leadership.

“It should be quite clear to all players in the Republic of Niger that the leadership of the ECOWAS Region and all lovers of democracy around the world will not tolerate any situation that incapacitates the democratically-elected government of the country.

“The ECOWAS leadership will not accept any action that impedes the smooth functioning of legitimate authority in Niger or any part of West Africa.”

President Tinubu emphasized that the leadership of ECOWAS is monitoring developments in the Niger Republic and will ensure that democracy continues to succeed in that country and the entire region of West Africa. (NAN)