What’s Behind the Coup Attempt in Niger? | Viral Trending Updates

What’s Behind the Coup Attempt in Niger? | Viral Trending Updates

After a day of uncertainty in Niger on Wednesday, a cluster of uniformed soldiers took to state television to announce that they had seized control, ousting Mohamed Bazoum, the country’s democratically elected president.

Anti-coup demonstrators clashed with security forces in Niamey, the capital, and the military putschists subsequently declared a nationwide curfew, announcing that they would also shutter the country’s borders.

Although the foreign minister maintained that Mr. Bazoum remained the sole “legitimate power” in Niger and that the military was not united in the attempted coup, a statement from the army command on Thursday said that its forces supported the coup efforts.

Here’s what to know about the attempted takeover.

Members of the country’s Presidential Guard encircled the president’s palace in Niamey on Wednesday morning and held Mr. Bazoum hostage. For hours, an anxious country waited to see whether the crisis would be resolved quietly, with little clear information about either the rebels’ identities or whether the president was safe.

Hundreds of demonstrators against the coup briefly took to the streets of Niamey on Wednesday afternoon to demand Mr. Bazoum’s release before being violently dispersed by security forces.

That night, the mutineers declared that they had “put an end to the regime.”

Col. Amadou Abdramane, a spokesman for those attempting the coup, read out a printed statement justifying their actions as a response to “the deteriorating security situation and bad social and economic governance.” Niger faces several Islamist insurgencies in its southern region, and people across the country have been feeling the strain from the rising cost of living.

Colonel Abdramane was flanked by the deputy military chief of staff and senior members of the National Guard and Presidential Guard. And on Thursday, the country’s military appeared to formally back the takeover, saying that it was necessary to avoid strife between branches of the country’s security forces.

The Nigerien government called on the public to reject the attempted military takeover and defend the country’s democracy.

“The hard-won gains will be safeguarded,” Mr. Bazoum wrote on Facebook. “All Nigeriens who love democracy and freedom will see to it.”

A successful coup could deal a fatal blow to Niger’s nascent democracy.

The country has been subjected to four military coups since gaining independence from France in 1960. Mr. Bazoum, president since 2021, had taken the reins in Niger’s first peaceful, democratic transition since independence — though elements in the military also attempted an unsuccessful takeover just two days before his swearing-in.

Mr. Bazoum had recently begun making changes in the ranks, pushing out the army chief of staff and forcing some other top generals into retirement, moves that may have antagonized the military, said Ibrahim Yahaya Ibrahim, an expert in the stretch of Africa known as the Sahel, which includes Niger, for the International Crisis Group.

But the military was also exploiting growing Nigerien public “disenchantment” with the country’s democratic experiment, Mr. Ibrahim said. Mr. Bazoum “had achievements, but when you compare the achievements to people’s expectations, they were much higher,” he added.

The events could also affect dynamics in the region, which has been marred by insurgencies, aging dictators and military coups.

Niger’s U.S.-backed government has been a critical ally for Western countries seeking to quash Islamist insurgencies in the Sahel. Over 1,100 American troops are based in Niger.

Mr. Bazoum’s alignment with France had drawn the ire of some in the military who opposed the presence of Western forces in the country, Mr. Ibrahim said.

At least three other countries in West Africa — Burkina Faso, Guinea and Mali — have had military coups since 2020. Western observers fear that a military junta in Niger could mimic events in neighboring Mali, whose putschists eventually expelled a United Nations peacekeeping force, while building close ties with Russia’s Wagner mercenaries.

The Economic Community of West African States — a union of 15 countries in the region — denounced the attempted coup. President Bola Tinubu of Nigeria, who chairs the body, said that its members “shall not waiver or flinch in our resolve to defend and preserve constitutional order.” Benin’s president, Patrice Talon, would travel to Niamey to try to mediate a solution, Mr. Tinubu said.

The United States and France, two of Niger’s main allies, have strongly supported Mr. Bazoum

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken called the embattled president on Wednesday to convey Washington’s “unwavering support,” the State Department said in a news release.

Mr. Blinken suggested that American economic and security assistance to Niger could be threatened should the coup go forward. The partnership “depends on the continuation of democratic governance and respect for the rule of law and human rights,” he said.

France has deployed forces in Niger in an attempt to fight militant groups such as Boko Haram, but the ousting of the country’s democratically elected leader could throw the future of that partnership into doubt, too.

António Guterres, the United Nations secretary general, said in a statement that he condemned “any effort to seize power by force and to undermine democratic governance” in Niger.

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *