A file picture of Niger president Mohamed Bazoum. EFE/FILE/Issa Ousseini

Ousted Niger president calls for protection of ‘hard-won’ democracy after military coup

Niamey, July 27 (EFE).- Niger’s ousted President Mohamed Bazoum Thursday called for the protection of the hard-won “democratic achievements” of the Western African nation after the military announced a coup on national TV.

Coup leaders have held Bazoum in the Presidential Palace since early on Wednesday.

“The hard-won gains will be safeguarded,” Bazoum said on Twitter. “All Nigerians who love democracy and freedom would want this.”

The remarks were the ousted president’s first after the coup.

“We, the defence and security forces… have decided to put an end to the regime” of Bazoum, said Colonel-Major Amadou Abdramane, flanked by nine other uniformed soldiers in the address to the nation on the state-run TV.

The soldiers, who said they had 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 country.

The coup leaders, who have grouped under the so-called National Council for the Safeguarding of the Country, reaffirmed their respect for all commitments signed by Niger.

They said that the defense and security forces were managing the situation.

They 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, 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.

Foreign Minister of the deposed government Hassoumi Massoudou described the coup as an “adventure with disastrous objects” that would “fail.”

Massoudou announced on his Twitter account that he had assumed the position of “interim government president.”

“As interim head of government, I call on all democrats, all patriots, to defeat this adventure that carries all the dangers for our democracy,” he wrote. “Long live democracy, long live Niger.”

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 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 that Washington is “deeply concerned about … any effort to detain or subvert the functioning of Niger’s democratically elected government, led by President Bazoum.”

Niger, one of the poorest countries, has been plagued by extremist violence while millions of people suffer the impact of climate change and an ongoing food crisis. EFE