Alleged coup in Niger thwarted

Mildred Europa Taylor March 31, 2021
Niger foils attempted coup. Photo: AFP

Niger foiled an “attempted coup” early Wednesday and several soldiers have been arrested, a security source said. Heavy gunfire was heard near the country’s presidency in the capital, Niamey, in the early hours of Wednesday.

“It was around 3.00 am, we heard shots from heavy and light weapons and it lasted 15 minutes before stopping, followed by shots from light weapons,” a source was quoted by AFP.

The reports of gunfire come just two days before President-elect Mohamed Bazoum is due to be sworn in.

“There were some arrests among a few members of the army who are behind this attempted coup,” said a source quoted by AFP.

“The Presidential Guard retaliated, preventing this group of soldiers from approaching the presidential palace,” the source added.

The US Embassy in Niamey put out a security alert saying it would be closed on Wednesday “due to gunshots heard near our neighborhood.” “All personnel are encouraged to stay home until further notice,” it said.

Calm has since returned to the capital. Aljazeera reports that “questions are being asked as to whether the attack was by armed groups or was it a military coup.”

There have been some attacks by armed groups in the country following Bazoum’s victory in a February presidential election runoff. Former President Mahamane Ousmane lost in the runoff and has rejected the results. Bazoum’s inauguration on Friday will be the first elected transition in Niger’s history since independence from France in 1960, according to AFP.

Niger, after its 1960 independence, had to grapple with series of coups and political instability, as well as uprisings as the nomadic Tuareg who were in the north of the country fought for recognition of their identity in the 1990s.

The country, which is rated by the UN as one of the world’s least-developed nations, is struggling due to frequent insurrections, droughts and poverty. Slavery, which was only banned in 2003, is still a problem, and the country also aims at curbing its high rate of disease and illiteracy.

With increased oil exploration and mining activities, Niger is reportedly hoping to revive its economy for overall development.

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: March 31, 2021


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