Tue. Apr 16th, 2024

There has been an attempted coup in Niger, raising concerns among its West African neighbours, particularly Nigeria whose President heads the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

Soldiers have blocked the Niger presidential palace, security sources told Reuters News.

President Mohamed Bozoum of Niger is believed to be inside the palace. However in a statement (now deleted) shared on the government’s Facebook page, Mr Bozoum and his family were said to be doing well.

Acknowledging the coup attempt, the government described it as an anti-Republican movement which tried but failed to obtain the support of the National Armed Forces and the National Guard.

It said the army and the National Guard are ready to attack the elements of the presidential guard involved in the act.

Niger is fighting two jihadist rebellions; in the southeast, which is a spillover from the Nigeria Boko Haram insurgency, and in the southwest, close to Mali.

In March 2021, two days to the inauguration of Mr Bozoum as president, a coup was foiled in neighbouring Mali. The West African country shares borders with Burkina Faso which is also troubled; Chad which is facing a humanitarian crisis; Benin and Algeria.

Between August 2020 and now, five coups have occurred in three West African countries – Burkina Faso, Mali and Guinea – with coup attempts also recorded in The Gambia and Guinea-Bissau foiled.

Nigeria, Niger’s neighbour and Africa’s largest democracy, has condemned the coup attempt.

“Information filtering in from the Republic of Niger indicates some unpleasant developments around the country’s highest political leadership,” Nigeria’s President, Bola Tinubu, said in a statement.

“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,” said Mr Tinubu.

“I wish to say that we are closely monitoring the situation and developments in Niger and we will do everything within our powers to ensure democracy is firmly planted, nurtured, well rooted and thrives in our region.

“I am in close consultation with other leaders in our region, and we shall protect our hard-earned democracy in line with the universally acceptable principle of constitutionalism.

“As the Chairperson of ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government, I state without equivocation that Nigeria stands firmly with the elected government in Niger and equally conveys the absolute resolve of leaders in our sub-region that we shall not waiver or flinch on our stand to defend and preserve constitutional order.”

 

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