Niger's military announces coup Soldiers in Niger have announced a coup, imposing a curfew and closing borders in a country that is a key U.S. ally in West Africa.

Niger's military announces coup

Niger's military announces coup

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/1190427938/1190427939" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Soldiers in Niger have announced a coup, imposing a curfew and closing borders in a country that is a key U.S. ally in West Africa.

Supporters of the Nigerien defence and security forces gather during a demonstration outside the national assembly in Niamey on July 27, 2023. The head of Niger's armed forces on July 27, 2023 said he endorsed a declaration by troops who overnight announced they had taken power after detaining the country's elected president, Mohamed Bazoum. -/AFP via Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption
-/AFP via Getty Images

Supporters of the Nigerien defence and security forces gather during a demonstration outside the national assembly in Niamey on July 27, 2023. The head of Niger's armed forces on July 27, 2023 said he endorsed a declaration by troops who overnight announced they had taken power after detaining the country's elected president, Mohamed Bazoum.

-/AFP via Getty Images

A MARTÍNEZ, HOST:

The president of the West African nation of Niger was removed in a coup late last night, local time, despite frantic diplomatic efforts to save his government.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

The president was held for several hours by his own guards at his residence, and then soldiers appeared on national TV after midnight, local time, and announced the president had been deposed.

MARTÍNEZ: Emmanuel Akinwotu is NPR's Africa correspondent, joins us now from neighboring Nigeria. How have the soldiers justified this coup?

EMMANUEL AKINWOTU, BYLINE: Well, a group of 10 soldiers, they appeared on national TV last night, and one of them read a pre-prepared speech that really followed what's become a familiar blueprint for many of the recent coups we've seen in the region. He said they took over the government because of the deterioration of the security situation there - and he was referring to the Islamist insurgencies that are still raging - and, he said, because of the poor economy and poor governance. Until last night, we know the president, Mohamed Bazoum, was still being held at the presidential palace. But in a further development this morning, actually, the president posted on social media on his own account and vowed to defend the country's democracy - so responding with defiant words, but it's not clear how he could do that.

You know, yesterday he was actually confident that the military would come to his aid, but they never did. There's been no apparent armed resistance to this coup so far. You know, Niger, it's important to keep in mind, has been a key Western ally in a region where some of its neighbors have weakened or severed Western ties. And the U.S. has a military base there with over a thousand troops, as does France with a larger force. But even though it's had Western military support, insecurity has actually gotten worse. And we'll have to see now how the military approaches these ties.

MARTÍNEZ: You said Niger, a strong Western ally. How has the West responded?

AKINWOTU: Well, as you'd imagine, the U.S. has condemned the coup in strong terms. They've demanded the president's release. Secretary Blinken, who actually visited Niger in March, said he spoke to the president yesterday to offer support and said U.S. support for Niger crucially depends on the continuation of democratic governance in his own words. So, you know, there were really pretty urgent, maybe frantic, diplomatic efforts last night to avert this outcome, which have obviously failed, in the regional bloc of West African countries called ECOWAS. They sent a delegation to Niamey, but, obviously, that didn't work. Now we'll have to see how they all respond. Crucially, the challenge is that when juntas, when military leaders have launched coups in this region and then been isolated by the West, Russia has been there waiting in the wings to exploit this. And we've seen that in countries like Mali.

MARTÍNEZ: NPR's Emmanuel Akinwotu, thank you very much.

AKINWOTU: Thank you.

Copyright © 2023 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.