By Aliyu Dangida
Niger presidential guards are holding President Mohamed Bazoum inside the presidential palace in the capital, which has been blocked off by military vehicles since Wednesday morning, security sources said.
The movements have the semblance of four military takeovers that have hit neighbouring Mali and Burkina Faso since 2020.
Ministries next to the palace have also been blocked off, and staff inside the palace have not been able to access their offices, presidency, and security sources said.
The rest of Niamey appeared calm, with normal morning traffic on the road and full internet access, a Reuters reporter said.
Previous coups in Burkina Faso and Mali were spurred in part by frustrations over authorities’ failure to stem an Islamist insurgency blighting the Sahel region, which includes Niger.
There was also a thwarted coup attempt in Niger in March 2021, when a military unit tried to seize the presidential palace days before Bazoum was due to be sworn in.
In 2021, the Guinean special forces arrested the president, Alpha Conde, and announced a nationwide curfew “until further notice” as well as the replacement of governors by the military.
“We have decided, after having taken the president, to dissolve the constitution,” said a uniformed officer flanked by soldiers toting assault rifles in a video sent to AFP.