Niger President’s supporters protest, AU, ECOWAS condemn coup plot

An attempted coup was underway Wednesday in the fragile state of Niger Republic, where members of the Presidential Guard detained President Mohamed Bazoum, triggering a standoff with the army, sources said.

Hours after the president was detained, Bazoum supporters tried to approach the complex where he was being held, but were dispersed by members of the Presidential Guard, who fired warning shots, AFP reported.

Disgruntled members of the elite Presidential Guard sealed off access to the President’s residence and offices in the capital Niamey, and after talks broke down they “refused to release the President,” a presidential source said.

“The army has given them an ultimatum,” said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The reason for the guards’ anger was not disclosed.

During the protest, one person was hurt, but it was not immediately clear if he was injured by a bullet or from falling as the crowd scattered.

Meanwhile, the African Union condemned the act and accused the soldiers of betraying their duty.

A Twitter post from the AU read, “Informed of an attempt by certain members of the military to undermine the stability of democratic & republican institutions in Niger, tantamount to an attempted coup d’état, the Chairperson of the AU Commission, H.E. Moussa Faki Mahamat, strongly condemns such actions.”

The AU chair, Moussa Mahamat, further accused the soldiers of “acting in total betrayal of their republican duty.”

He urged them to “immediately cease these unacceptable actions” and return to their barracks.

Similarly, the Economic Community of West African States, on Wednesday, said it would deploy “all means necessary” to restore constitutional order in the Republic of Niger amid coup fears.

This formed the outcome of a closed-door meeting between Nigerian President, Bola Tinubu, who also serves as Chairman of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government, and his Beninoise counterpart, Patrice Talon, at the Aso Rock Presidential Villa, Abuja.

“Talon is here to review and consult on the issues with our neighbour. And the military misbehaviours, and that is what he’s here for. He’s going there now. He’s on his way to Niger Republic,” Tinubu told State House Correspondents.

Bazoum was democratically elected in 2021, taking the helm of the landlocked West African state in April of that year.

“The situation is serious enough,” Talon told State House Correspondents after the meeting.

He said as a border nation between Nigeria and Benin, both leaders take the developments “seriously” and must “act quickly.”

Talon said the regional bloc would spare no effort to restore order to the troubled state, with mediation efforts beginning Wednesday evening.

“I believe that all means will be used, if necessary, to restore constitutional order in Niger. But the ideal would be for everything to happen in peace and harmony.

“So, as the President (ECOWAS) has committed, the mediation actions will be reinforced this very evening so that this situation can be settled in peace between brothers because even when what is not acceptable is done, it is necessary that in peace, we can correct this.

“This is our first option, and we think it will be a success,” he said.

(Punch)