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Coup d'état, mutiny? what we know about the events in Niger

 Coup d'état, mutiny? what we know about the events in Niger
Niger President Mohamed Bazoum delivers his address during the Med 2022 Dialogues forum,   -  
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Andrew Medichini/Copyright 2022 The AP. All rights reserved.


With soldiers in fatigues announcing that they are taking power, condemnation from Western partners, and mediation from neighboring countries, the coup d'état in Niger is the third of its kind in the Sahel region, shaking a region already on the brink of collapse.


On Wednesday night, mostly unknown military putchists announced on national television that they had overthrown the democratically elected president Mohamed Bazoum, who has been in power since 2021.

In his address, Colonel Major Amadou Abdramane announced the suspension of institutions and the closure of the country's borders, justifying the coup d'état by "the continuing deterioration of the security situation" in Niger.

The junta, which claims to bring together all the army, gendarmerie, and police forces, introduced a curfew from 10pm to 5am.

This announcement came at the end of a day of tension and confusion, marked by what the government had called "a mood swing" by the presidential guard, who are holding President Bazoum at the presidency.

Late on Wednesday afternoon, demonstrators massed outside the palace to reject the coup d'état were dispersed by warning shots fired by the guard.

The situation appeared calm in Niamey and the streets, which had been subjected to heavy rain, were deserted.


A few hours after the video of the coup plotters, President Mohamed Bazoum, who had been able to hold talks with the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken during the night, published a message on Twitter, renamed X, to affirm that the democratic gains would be "safeguarded".

Sequestered at the presidency with his family, the Nigerien president is "in good health" according to his foreign minister Hamoudi Massoudou, and "his physical integrity has not been threatened".

Speaking on France 24, Mr Massoudou, who is himself in Niamey and acting head of government - who was in Rome at the time of the attack - insisted that the legal and legitimate authorities of Niger remained in the hands of President Bazoum. He called on the factious officers "to fall in line" and assured them that everything could be resolved through "dialogue".

West African mediation, launched on Wednesday with the arrival of Beninese President Patrice Talon in Niger, is due to attempt to find a solution.

French diplomatic sources remain cautious and believe that the coup d'état is not necessarily a reality. "There is a video of the mutineers saying that they have taken power, which is not necessarily the case", this source points out.


The coup d'état in Niger is a blow to the West, particularly France, which is set to lose one of its last allies in the Sahel, a vast region undermined by attacks from jihadist groups linked to the Islamic State and al-Qaeda, and ravaged by poverty and instability.

After Mali and Burkina Faso, Niger, a country of 26.2 million inhabitants that exports uranium but is very poor, has become the third Sahelian country to experience a coup d'état since 2020. 

Paris still has 1,500 troops in Niger, having ended the Barkhane anti-terrorist operation and left Mali under pressure from the Bamako junta.

"A successful coup in Niger would be a terrible blow for the region. Objectively, Bazoum was doing a lot to save his country, and was the ideal security partner for the West", wrote American analyst Michael Shurkin of the Atlantic Council on Linkedin on Wednesday.

As Vladimir Putin meets African leaders on Wednesday for a Russia-Africa summit at which he intends to discuss "a new world order", there is also a great fear that Russia, which is present in Mali via the mercenaries of the paramilitary group Wagner, will advance its pawns. "May Niger not appeal to Russia, which we can count on to aggravate all Niger's problems", wrote Mr Shurkin.

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