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Niger's military announces a coup on national television

Col. Major Amadou Abdramane, center, is shown speaking during a televised statement. Soldiers claimed on July 26, 2023, to have overthrown the government of Niger President Mohamed Bazoum in a statement read out on national television.
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ORTN - Télé Sahel/AFP via Getty
Col. Major Amadou Abdramane, center, is shown speaking during a televised statement. Soldiers claimed on July 26, 2023, to have overthrown the government of Niger President Mohamed Bazoum in a statement read out on national television.

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.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he spoke with Niger's President Mohamed Bazoum and said that the U.S. "strongly supports him as the democratically elected president of the country."

Bazoum had been effectively held hostage all day by members of the presidential guard. Soldiers went on state television after midnight there and announced the coup, saying the country's constitution has been dissolved and all institutions suspended.

The U.S. has drone bases in Niger, a country that has been an important partner in counter-terrorism efforts in the region. Blinken says that partnership depends on democratic governance and respect for the rule of law.

Niger has had four coups since gaining independence from France in 1960 and numerous attempted takeovers, including against Bazoum.

Niger is a landlocked country in the middle of an unstable region - there have been successive military coups is countries like neighboring Mali that have severed Western ties and where the Russia-backed Wagner mercenary group has a significant presence.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Michele Kelemen has been with NPR for two decades, starting as NPR's Moscow bureau chief and now covering the State Department and Washington's diplomatic corps. Her reports can be heard on all NPR News programs, including Morning Edition and All Things Considered.