A file photo of Niger President Mohamed Bazoum at the presidential palace. Niger soldiers announced on 26 July 2023 that they have overthrown the nation's democratically elected president, Mohamed Bazoum. EFE/Mariscal

Niger soldiers announce coup, say borders closed

Niamey, July 26 (EFE).- Niger soldiers announced Wednesday that they have overthrown the nation’s democratically elected president, Mohamed Bazoum.

The soldiers, who said they have ordered the borders to be closed, justified the coup by citing the continuous “deterioration of the security situation and poor economic and social governance” in the West African country.

In three communiques read on television, representatives of the coup leaders, organized under the so-called National Council for the Safeguarding of the Country, reaffirmed their respect for all commitments signed by Niger.

The soldiers said all of the country’s institutions had been suspended and that “the defense and security forces are managing the situation.”

A curfew also was decreed from 10 pm Wednesday until 5 am Thursday throughout the national territory until a new order is issued.

The coup leaders furthermore pledged to the international community to respect the “physical and moral integrity of the deposed authorities, in accordance with human rights principles.”

With those words, Col. Maj. Amadou Abdramane put an end to widespread confusion about the whereabouts of Bazoum and the political situation in the country that had reigned throughout the day on Wednesday.

The putsch began with the coup leaders’ closing off access to the presidential palace with Bazoum inside. Later, Niger’s presidency announced on its Twitter account that elements of the presidential guard were carrying out an anti-republican action.

On March 31, 2021, Niger’s authorities thwarted an attempted coup against Bazoum two days before his inauguration, limiting the assailants’ actions to a series of shootouts near the presidential palace in the nation’s capital, Niamey.

The parties that make up Niger’s government called on the coup forces that seized the presidential palace on Wednesday to put down their arms and urged Niger’s people to mobilize en masse to defend democracy.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres spoke Wednesday with the deposed president and expressed his support and solidarity.

The United States also condemned the coup, with National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan saying in a statement that Washington is “deeply concerned about … any effort to detain or subvert the functioning of Niger’s democratically elected government, led by President Bazoum.”

One of the world’s poorest countries, Niger has been plagued by jihadist violence, while millions of people are suffering the impact of climate change and an ongoing food crisis. EFE