The new military rulers of Niger have sparked international outrage following their coup last week, resulting in the detention of prominent members of the previously democratically elected ruling party, News About Nigeria reports.
The Nigerien Party for Democracy and Socialism (PNDS) revealed that at least 180 party members, including Energy Minister Mahamane Sani Mahamadou and Mines Minister Ousseini Hadizatou, have been detained by the military.
Additionally, the coup plotters detained PNDS president Foumakoye Gado, as well as Interior Minister Hama Adamou Souley, Transport Minister Oumarou Malam Alma, and his deputy, Kalla Moutari. The PNDS spokesman, Hamid N’Gadé, condemned these “abusive arrests,” calling attention to the military’s repressive and dictatorial behavior.
The coup, led by officers from General Omar Tchiani‘s elite unit, removed Niger’s democratically elected president, Mohamed Bazoum, from power and installed Tchiani as the new ruler. Subsequently, the coup leaders suspended the country’s constitution and dissolved all constitutional institutions.
The international community has widely condemned the coup. The West African community of states, ECOWAS, issued an ultimatum, demanding the release and reinstatement of President Bazoum within a week. They warned of possible measures, including the use of force, if their demands were not met.
The European Union voiced support for ECOWAS’ actions, with EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell expressing that Bazoum remains the sole legitimate head of state in Niger.
Before the coup, Niger was regarded as an anchor of democracy in the Sahel region, which has been grappling with Islamist terrorism.
In the midst of the crisis, ousted President Mohamed Bazoum has been spotted meeting with Chad’s leader, Mahamat Idriss Déby Itno, in Niger’s capital, Niamey. Déby is leading mediation efforts to resolve the crisis after West African leaders gave the junta a one-week deadline to relinquish power or face military action.
Déby’s office released a photo of him alongside Bazoum, signifying efforts to find a peaceful solution to the crisis that has engulfed Niger. The regional bloc, ECOWAS, has warned of potential intervention if the junta fails to comply with their demands.
The junta, on the other hand, has vowed to protect Niger from any aggression by regional or Western powers, accusing former colonial power France of planning military intervention. Notably, both France and the US maintain military bases in Niger.
As the situation continues to unfold, the world watches closely to see how the crisis in Niger will be resolved and its impact on regional stability.