The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) planned to send the president of Benin, Patrice Talon, to Niger to assist with negotiations over a coup to remove President Mohamed Bazoum, who remained in military custody in the presidential palace.
The coup actors took to live television late Wednesday to confirm their intent to remove Bazoum and dissolve the country’s constitution. They said Niger’s borders would remain closed.
Talon and Nigerian President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the current chair of the ECOWAS heads of state, confirmed the visit from Abuja, where Talon and Tinubu met to discuss the crisis in Niger.
“The leadership of the ECOWAS region and all lovers of democracy around the world will not tolerate any situation that incapacitates the democratically elected government of the country,” said Tinubu in a statement. “Nigeria stands firmly with the elected government in Niger.”
The ECOWAS body issued a similar statement.
“ECOWAS condemns in the strongest terms the attempt to seize power by force,” said the 15-member body, which includes the Sahel nations of Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso. It called on the Nigerien forces responsible for detaining Bazoum to free him immediately.
The presidency in Niger said its people supported the Bazoum government and shared images from Niamey, and in other countries, where people had gathered to protest the coup.
“Spontaneous demonstrations by democracy advocates broke out all over the city of Niamey,” said the Nigerien leaders.
There are no reports of injuries due to the coup so far, and the protests appeared peaceful.
Bazoum, a trusted Western partner who spoke out again Malian coup leader Assimi Goïta in 2021, replaced Issoufou Mahamadou as Niger’s leader during that year’s elections.
The African Union, United Nations, United States and European Union also condemned Bazoum’s detention.
Image: Presidency Niger