Coup: Niger president detained by military, vows democracy will prevail
In this image taken from video Colonel Major Amadou Abdramane (front center) makes a statement late Wednesday, July 26, 2023, in Niamey, Niger, as a delegation of military officers appeared on Niger State TV to announce their coup d'etat.

Niger’s president defiantly declared Thursday that democracy would prevail, a day after mutinous soldiers detained him and announced they had seized power in a coup in the West African country.

While many people in the capital of Niamey went about their usual business, it remained unclear who was in control of the country and which side the majority might support.

A statement tweeted by the army command’s account declared that it would back the coup in order to avoid a “murderous confrontation that could lead to a bloodbath.”

It was not possible to confirm whether the statement was genuine.

Meanwhile, President Mohamed Bazoum, elected in 2021 in Niger’s first peaceful, democratic transfer of power since its independence from France, reportedly has the backing of a number of political parties. Several parties issued a statement on Wednesday calling the coup attempt “suicidal and anti-republican madness.”

President Bazoum tweeted early on Thursday morning: “The hard-won achievements will be safeguarded. All Nigeriens who love democracy and freedom will see to it.”

Foreign Minister Hassoumi Massoudou issued a similar call on the news network France 24, asking “all Nigerien democratic patriots to stand up as one to say no to this factious action.” He demanded the president’s unconditional release and said talks were ongoing to achieve that goal.

The Economic Community of West African States regional grouping sent Benin President Patrice Talon to lead mediation efforts.

On Wednesday morning, members of the presidential guard surrounded President Bazoum’s house and detained him.

The mutinous soldiers, who call themselves the National Council for the Safeguarding of the Country, took to state television and announced they had seized control because of deteriorating security and poor economic and social governance in the nation of 25 million people.

They said they had dissolved the constitution, suspended all institutions, and closed all the borders.

The attempted coup was reportedly led by the head of the presidential guard, General Tchiani, whom the president reportedly had planned to relieve from his position.

According to an anonymous source, the president has not and will not resign and is safe inside his residence.

United Nations Human Rights chief Volker Turk called for President Bazoum’s release and said “All efforts must be undertaken to restore constitutional order and the rule of law.”

Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said Russia also wanted the immediate release of the president, adding they wanted to see “a speedy resolution of this internal political crisis.”

Morning Star

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Roger McKenzie
Roger McKenzie

Roger McKenzie is the International Editor of Morning Star, Britain’s daily socialist newspaper. He is the author of the book "African Uhuru: The Fight for African Freedom in the Rise of the Global South" published by Manifesto Press.