Security sources in Niger say that an attempted coup in the country has been foiled. The BBC reports that there had been heavy gunfire close to the presidential palace on Tuesday night, and that a group of soldiers had been behind the assault. They have since been arrested.
Meanwhile, President-elect Mohamed Bazoum is due to be sworn in on Friday, in what is to be the first transfer of power between two democratically elected presidents in Niger since the country won independence in 1960.
According to the BBC, following Bazoum’s victory in February, attacks by so called ‘Jihadist’ groups have been on the rise. Political tensions in the country have also increased. Bazoum’s rival, Mahamane Ousmane, had rejected the result of the vote. Ousmane had been elected President in 1993 but was overthrown in a military coup three years later. Violent protests followed his allegations that February’s poll was rigged. His supporters had been banned from holding a protest on Wednesday in Niamey.
Gunfire had reportedly begun at around 3am local time. According to witnesses it continued for between 15 to 30 minutes. A resident said, “We heard shots from heavy and light weapons and it lasted 15 minutes before stopping, followed by shots from light weapons.”
The BBC reports that a unit from an air base had tried to seize the presidential palace in Niamey but were repelled by shelling and gunfire from the presidential guard.
Umm Muhammed Umar