Nigerian Soldiers Stage Coup, Announce Takeover on National Television

Military Takes Control in Niger, Dissolves Institutions and Closes Borders

Nigerian soldiers have announced a coup on national TV, declaring the dissolution of the constitution, the suspension of all institutions, and the closure of the country’s borders. President Mohamed Bazoum has been held by the presidential guard since early Wednesday.

The United States, through Secretary of State Antony Blinken, expressed unwavering support to President Bazoum, while UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres offered full support from the United Nations.

President Bazoum is a crucial ally in the fight against Islamist militancy in West Africa. Neighboring countries, Mali and Burkina Faso, have also experienced coups triggered by jihadist uprisings in recent years.

In the televised announcement, Col Maj Amadou Abdramane, along with other uniformed soldiers, cited the deteriorating security situation and poor economic and social governance as reasons for taking action.

All external partners were asked not to interfere, and a night curfew was imposed from 22:00 to 05:00 local time until further notice.

The soldiers identified themselves as acting on behalf of the National Council for the Safeguard of the Homeland (CNSP).

Following the announcement, the US Secretary of State called for the release of President Bazoum, condemning the military’s efforts to seize power by force and disrupt the constitution.

In a televised address on Wednesday, Colonel Major Amadou Abdramane, accompanied by nine other uniformed soldiers, declared: “We, the defense and security forces, have decided to bring an end to the current regime.”

He cited the ongoing deterioration of the security situation and the poor state of economic and social governance as reasons for their actions.

Colonel Major Abdramane announced the suspension of all of the country’s institutions, with the heads of ministries taking over day-to-day affairs.

“All external partners are urged not to intervene,” he continued. “The closure of land and air borders will remain in effect until the situation stabilizes.”

A night curfew was imposed from 22:00 to 05:00 local time until further notice.

The soldiers stated that they were acting on behalf of the National Council for the Safeguard of the Homeland (CNSP).

Following the televised announcement, Secretary of State Antony Blinken called for the release of President Bazoum.

Speaking at a news conference in New Zealand, he strongly condemned the attempt to seize power by force and disrupt the constitutional order.

Amidst concerns about the presence of heavily armed Russian Wagner mercenaries aiding the military regime in Mali’s fight against jihadist insurgents, the unrest in neighboring Niger adds to the existing Western unease about the instability in the Sahel region.

In a bid to enhance Russian influence in Africa, President Vladimir Putin is hosting African leaders in St. Petersburg on Thursday.

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has strongly condemned the attempt to seize power by force in Niger.

To mediate the situation, Benin’s President Patrice Talon has arrived in the capital, Niamey, on behalf of ECOWAS, stating that all possible means will be employed to restore constitutional order, though seeking a peaceful resolution.

Earlier, on Wednesday, crowds in Niamey showed their support for President Bazoum, while heavily armed forces loyal to him were stationed around the national broadcaster.

While the city remained mostly peaceful, the coup attempt prompted soldiers to fire shots to disperse the protests.

Niger faces the challenge of confronting two Islamist insurgencies – one originating from Mali in 2015 and affecting the southwest, and the other involving jihadists based in northeastern Nigeria and impacting the southeast.

The country is grappling with militant groups affiliated with both al-Qaeda and the Islamic State, posing a significant security concern.

President Bazoum, who assumed power through democratic elections in 2021, maintains close ties with France and other Western nations.

Since gaining independence from France in 1960, Niger has encountered four coups and several attempted coups, reflecting a history of political instability.