Soldiers in Niger claimed to have removed President Mohamed Bazoum from power late on Wednesday, hours after members of the presidential guard detained the politician at his official residence.
According to international media reports, in a statement broadcast on national television, Colonel-Major Amadou Abdramane said that “the defence and security forces have decided to put an end to the regime you are familiar with”.
“This follows the continuous deterioration of the security situation, the bad social and economic management.”
The soldier said the country’s borders were closed and a nationwide curfew was in place. All institutions of the country were also suspended, he added.
Abdramane was seated and flanked by nine other officers wearing fatigues as he read out his statement. The group, which is calling itself the National Council for the Safeguarding of the Country, warned against any foreign intervention.
The announcement came after a day of uncertainty as Niger’s presidency reported that members of the elite guard unit were engaging in an “anti-Republican demonstration” and news agencies reported that Bazoum was being held at the palace by the mutinous forces.
It was unclear where the president was at the time of Abdramane’s announcement or if he had resigned.
“I spoke with President Bazoum earlier this morning and made clear that the United States resolutely supports him as the democratically elected president of Niger,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told reporters in New Zealand. “We call for his immediate release,” he said.
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 against armed groups linked to al-Qaeda and ISIS (ISIL).
Niger, a land-locked former French colony, is a pivotal ally for Western powers seeking to help fight the armed groups and is also a key partner of the European Union in the fight against irregular migration from sub-Saharan Africa.