Niger: what we know about the “attempted coup”

by time news

2023-07-26 15:47:05

Is power in Niger wavering? The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) condemned, this Wednesday, July 26, in the strongest terms the “coup attempt” and called for the “immediate” release of the elected president. , the organization said in a statement. The Express takes stock of the situation.

What happened ?

Nigerien President Mohamed Bazoum is detained in Niamey by the presidential guard, commanded by General Omar Tchiani, after “talks” which have failed. The army issued “an ultimatum” to the guard, according to a source close to the presidency. Wednesday morning, both access to the residence of the president and to the offices of the presidency which are in the same perimeter, were prohibited.

Niger

© / afp.com/Valentin RAKOVSKY

What does the presidency say?

For the moment, the reasons for this coup attempt remain unclear. In a message published on “X”, the presidency of Niger indicates that on Wednesday morning, “elements of the presidential guard (GP) engaged in an anti-republican mood movement and tried in vain to obtain the support of the armed forces Nationals and the National Guard”.

“The army and the national guard are ready to attack the elements of the GP involved in this mood swing if they do not return to better feelings”, adds the presidency, affirming that “the President of the Republic and his family are doing well.”

No particular military device is visible in the district where the presidency is located. No shots were heard, noted an AFP journalist.

Have there ever been coup attempts?

Since the independence of this former French colony in 1960, now plagued by jihadist violence in the Sahel, there have been four: the first in April 1974 against President Diori Hamani, the last in February 2010 which overthrown President Mamadou Tandja. Not to mention the numerous putsch attempts.

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On March 31, 2021, the Nigerien government announced the arrest of several people after an alleged coup attempt, two days before President Mohamed Bazoum was sworn in. The supposed “mastermind” of this coup attempt, Sani Gourouza, an air force captain, had been arrested in neighboring Benin and handed over to the Nigerien authorities.

In April 2022, Ousmane Cissé, former Nigerien Minister of the Interior of a military transition regime (2010-2011) was imprisoned for his alleged involvement in this failed putsch. An arrest “also in connection with a last foiled coup in March 2022, while President Bazoum was in Turkey”, according to a Nigerien official, but the authorities had not communicated publicly on this second failed putsch.

Last February, Ousmane Cissé was released for lack of evidence, but five of the soldiers presented as the main leaders of the 2021 putsch attempt were sentenced to 20 years in prison, including Sani Gourouza.

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