Soldiers claimed on Wednesday to have overthrown the government of Niger President Mohamed Bazoum in a statement read out on national television, a day after the leader was detained in his official residence.
"We, the defence and security forces ... have decided to put an end to the regime" of President Bazoum, said Colonel Major Amadou Abdramane, surrounded by nine other uniformed soldiers in the address.
They said "all institutions" in the country would be suspended, borders had been closed, and a curfew had been imposed "until further notice". They urged external partners not to interfere.
“This is as a result of the continuing degradation of the security situation, the bad economic and social governance," air force Col. Major Amadou Abdramane said on the video.
Seated at a table in front of nine other officers, he said aerial and land borders were closed and a curfew was imposed until the situation stabilised.
Unseating elected president
The announcement came after a day of uncertainty as members of Niger’s presidential guard surrounded the presidential palace and detained President Mohamed Bazoum.
It was unclear where the president was at the time of the announcement or if he had resigned.
The group, which is calling itself the National Council for the Safeguarding of the Country, said it remained committed to its engagements with the international and national community.
Earlier Wednesday, a tweet from the account of Niger’s presidency reported that members of the elite guard unit engaged in an “anti-Republican demonstration” and unsuccessfully tried to obtain support from other security forces.
It said Bazoum and his family were doing well but that Niger’s army and national guard “are ready to attack” if those involved in the action did not back down.
The commissions of the African Union and the Economic Community of West African States described the events as an effort to unseat Bazoum, who was elected president two years ago in the nation’s first peaceful, democratic transfer of power since its independence from France in 1960.