Niger army pledges allegiance to coup makers

Published : 27 Jul 2023 08:42 PM

Army chief says in a statement the decision was necessary to avoid fighting within the armed forces.

Niger’s army has declared allegiance to the defence and security forces that overthrew President Mohamed Bazoum, according to a statement signed by Abdou Sidikou Issa, the army chief of staff.

Thursday’s statement, posted on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, said the decision was necessary to “avoid a deadly confrontation between the various forces”.

Members of the Presidential Guard had detained Bazoum inside his palace in the capital, Niamey, early on Wednesday.

In a statement broadcasted later on national television, Colonel-Major Amadou Abdramane, spokesperson for a group calling itself the National Council for the Safeguarding of the Country, said that “the defence and security forces … have decided to put an end to the regime you are familiar with”.

“This follows the continuous deterioration of the security situation, the bad social and economic management,” he added.

The soldier said the country’s borders have been closed, and a nationwide curfew was in place. All institutions of the country were also suspended, Abdramane added. He was seated and flanked by nine other officers wearing fatigues as he read out his statement.

On Thursday, the colonel announced on national TV that all activities by political parties in Niger have been suspended until further notice, after the army declared its allegiance to the group.

Issa’s statement came hours after Niger’s presidency had warned on Wednesday that the army was ready to attack the rebelling presidential guards if they did not back down.

In a statement on the platform X, the presidency said the guards were engaged in an “anti-Republican demonstration” and had tried “in vain” to obtain the support of other security forces. The coup has sparked global condemnation.