Soldiers in Niger declared a coup on national television on Wednesday, saying they are dissatisfied with the economic and security situation in the country. The soldiers announced this after President Mohamed Bazoum was reportedly seized by members of the presidential guard on Wednesday, a move that has been condemned by many including UN Secretary General António Guterres.
The soldiers in their announcement on Wednesday said they have closed the nation’s borders, suspended all national institutions and dissolved the constitution.
“We, the defence and security forces… have decided to put an end to the regime you know. This follows the continuing deterioration of the security situation, and poor economic and social governance,” Col Maj Amadou Abdramane said Wednesday during the TV announcement, with some other uniformed soldiers behind him.
“All external partners are asked not to interfere. Land and air borders are closed until the situation has stabilised,” he added.
Foreign Minister Hassoumi Massoudou, who has declared himself the head of state, said the soldiers’ actions are “an attempted coup d’etat”, adding that not all members of the army were behind the coup.
Bazoum said on Twitter Thursday morning that “hard-won gains will be safeguarded”. It’s not clearly known where he is being detained but Massoudou said the president is in good health.
In March 2021, Niger foiled an “attempted coup” and several soldiers were arrested. This came just two days before President-elect Bazoum was due to be sworn in. There were 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 rejected the results. Bazoum’s inauguration was 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 a 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.