This situation has been updated here.
What We Know:
Members of the Republican Guard of Niger, Niger’s presidential security, have allegedly placed President Mohamed Bazoum under house arrest in the capital of Niamey in what the government has called an “anti-Republican demonstration”.
The Niger Defense Minister has likely also been detained, as he is currently unaccounted for. General Omar Tchiani is the leader of the Republican Guard and likely the head of the coup attempt.
The government has also announced that the military has remained loyal and is prepared to attack coup members if they do not back down. Armored vehicles have been deployed at the presidential palace, and President Bazoum and his family are reported to be safe.
“The President of the Republic and his family are well,” the government announced on social media, without further detail. The statement has since been deleted.
French intelligence sources have said they are confident the coup will not succeed.
Additionally noteworthy is the OSINT discovery of a Niger air force transport aircraft, marked 5U-MBI, that has a history of transporting high-level government officials and is currently on it’s way to Niamey.
Negotiations are currently underway between the military and coup leaders but have reportedly not gone well thus far.
President Bola Tinubu of neighboring Nigeria and chair of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) announced that the surrounding nations are closely monitoring the situation, referring to it as “unpleasant developments”.
“The ECOWAS leadership will not accept any action that impedes the smooth functioning of legitimate authority in Niger or any part of West Africa… We will do everything within our powers to ensure democracy is firmly planted, nurtured, well-rooted, and thrives in our region”, he said in a statement.
Tinubu had recently warned ECOWACS of coup attempts in the region, saying, “We will not allow coup after coup in the West African sub-region. We will take this up seriously with the African Union, European, America and Britain. We will take it up; It is a challenge.”
The African Union called on the “treasonous” guards to immediately surrender.
Foreign policy chief for the European Union, Josep Borrel, stated on social media, “The EU condemns any attempt to destabilize democracy and threaten the stability of Niger.”
France currently has soldiers stationed in Niger after moving them from Mali. They’ve been placed on a readiness alert.
A History of Violence:
President Bazoum’s election in 2021 marked a rare democratic transfer of power in Niger, a country that has experienced four military coups since gaining independence from France in 1960.
Neighboring Mali and Burkina Faso have also witnessed four military takeovers since 2020, triggered partly by frustrations over the government’s inability to quell insurgencies in the Sahel region, which encompasses Niger. The region is also referred to as the “coup belt.”
In March 2021, there was a foiled coup attempt in Niger when a military unit attempted to seize the presidential palace just days before Bazoum, the newly elected president, was scheduled to be sworn in. Also in 2021, a military junta took control of the government of Guinea.
Since then, the United States and Europe have provided much support to the government of Niger, hoping to use them as strong allies to defeat the insurgencies and Islamist uprisings in the region. Germany is currently undergoing a European initiative to improve Niger’s military through resources and training.
The French military, operating in their former colonies, has been asked to leave several of Niger’s neighbors, with many instead turning to Russia for military support.
Ulf Laessing, leader of the Sahel Programme for German think-tank Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung, noted, “Bazoum has been the West’s only hope in the Sahel region. France, the US, and the EU have spent much of their resources in the region to bolster Niger and its security forces.”