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Niger Republic Thwarts ‘Attempted Coup’ Before Presidential Inauguration

Niger’s presidential candidate Mohamed Bazoum leaves the polling station after casting his poll in Niamey on December 27, 2020 throughout Niger’s presidential and legislative elections. – Voters within the Sahel state of Niger go to the polls on December 27, 2020 for an election that might seal the nation’s first-ever peaceable handover between elected presidents, regardless of a bloody jihadist insurgency. (Photo by Issouf SANOGO / AFP)



Niger thwarted an “attempted coup” on Wednesday, the federal government stated, two days earlier than the historic inauguration of Mohamed Bazoum as president of the unstable Sahel nation.

Residents within the capital Niamey earlier reported listening to gunfire in the midst of the night time within the district the place the presidency is situated.

A authorities assertion stated “an attempted coup” had been blocked, condemning what it known as a “cowardly and regressive act which sought to threaten democracy and the state of law.”

An investigation has been launched and “several people connected with this attempted coup have been detained and others are being actively sought,” it stated, with out giving additional particulars.

The alleged chief of the coup is an air pressure officer answerable for safety of Niamey’s navy air base and continues to be being “actively sought”, a supply inside Niger’s safety providers advised AFP.

“The situation is totally under control,” the federal government assertion stated, calling on the general public to “carry on with normal life.”

A safety supply, talking on situation of anonymity, stated “there were some arrests among a few members of the army” who had been behind the coup bid.

“The Presidential Guard retaliated, preventing this group of soldiers from approaching the presidential palace,” the supply stated.

A resident of Niamey’s Plateau district, which incorporates the president’s official residence and places of work, advised AFP: “It was around 3:00 am, we heard shots from heavy and light weapons and it lasted 15 minutes before stopping, followed by shots from light weapons.”

“The gunfire lasted about 20 minutes,” one other resident stated.

A 3rd resident spoke of “intense shooting, with heavy and light weapons”.

Online newspaper reported that calm had returned by round 4:00 am.

In quick video clips posted on social networks, solely a number of seconds in size, sporadic bursts of gunfire could possibly be heard within the pitch darkish.

It was not instantly potential to confirm the movies independently.

The presidential district was being patrolled by safety forces, however in the remainder of town, life appeared to hold on as regular some 12 hours after the coup, an AFP journalist stated.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres was monitoring the state of affairs in Niger with “great concern”, his spokesman Stephane Dujarric stated.

“He urges all involved to desist from any form of incitement that threatens democratic consolidation and the stability of the country,” he advised reporters.

“He particularly calls on the armed forces to strictly abide by their constitutional obligations.”

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, who himself as soon as took energy in a coup, condemned the tried putsch, saying he was “particularly concerned about the negative impact of coups on African stability, peace and progress”.

– Looming inauguration –
The US embassy stated it was suspending consular providers till additional discover and suggested its staff to not come to work, and the French embassy equally urged French nationals to remain at house.

The alleged coup comes forward of Bazoum’s inauguration on Friday — the primary elected transition in Niger’s historical past since independence from France in 1960.

Numerous heads of state are anticipated to attend the ceremonies, in accordance with the federal government.

Bazoum is a former inside minister and right-hand man of outgoing president Mahamadou Issoufou, who’s voluntarily stepping down after two five-year phrases, a transfer that has been warmly praised by France and others.

Bazoum’s victory within the second spherical of elections on February 2 was confirmed by the constitutional court docket this month.

The runner-up, former president Mahamane Ousmane, contested the outcomes, claiming that he was the actual winner.

Ousmane had known as for “peaceful marches” throughout the nation, however authorities banned a deliberate opposition protest Wednesday in Niamey the day earlier than.

– Troubled nation –
Niger is the poorest nation on the planet, in accordance with the benchmark of the UN’s 189-nation Human Development Index (HDI).

It has suffered 4 coups in its historical past, most lately a February 2010 putsch which toppled then president Mamadou Tandja.

The Sahel nation has additionally been struck by repeated jihadist assaults, from insurgents who’ve superior from Mali within the west and Nigeria within the southeast.

More than 300 folks have been killed in three assaults within the west for the reason that begin of the yr.

In the newest of those, 141 members of the Tuareg group had been massacred on March 21 in Tahoua, an enormous desert area abutting Mali.

Bazoum has dominated out any talks with the insurgents.

Niger’s armed forces are poorly outfitted and skilled, and quantity simply 25,000 in a rustic twice the dimensions of Texas.

On March 8, Issoufou, the outgoing president, was awarded the coveted Ibrahim Prize — Africa’s prime prize for management.

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