Niger's military has said it will support the coup leaders' call for President Mohamed Bazoum to end his term in office. This was announced by the armed forces of the West African country on Facebook and Twitter. The move is intended to ensure the "physical integrity of the President and his family" and to avoid a "deadly conflict between the various security forces".
In the statement, the military warned against any military intervention from abroad. This could have devastating consequences for the country. According to unconfirmed reports, the head of the Presidential Guard, General Omar Tchiani, could now lead a military council.
On Wednesday morning, the Presidential Guard, an elite unit of the army, arrested President Bazoum (63) in Niamey and blocked access to the palace and several ministries. The President's office initially threatened that the army and the National Guard were ready to attack the Presidential Guard. Demonstrators marched in front of the presidential palace on Wednesday to protest for Bazoum and the preservation of democracy. Shots were reportedly fired.
The country's army currently has around 25,000 soldiers. According to different estimates, the Presidential Guard has between 700 and 1,000 guardsmen.
With around 26 million inhabitants, Niger is one of the poorest countries in the world. After military coups in Mali and Burkina Faso, Niger became the last of the three neighboring countries in the Sahel to be led by a democratically elected government.
Bazoum in office since 2021
It was not until the end of 2022 that the EU decided on a military mission in Niger to combat terrorism in the region. So far, the Bundeswehr has only provided a few soldiers who are in Niamey for this EU mission. Bazoum only took office in 2021 after democratic elections.
The Bundeswehr also maintains an air transport base in Niamey for military engagement in West Africa, where around 100 German soldiers work. The soldiers are safe, according to the Ministry of Defense. Embassy employees were also evacuated there, as the dpa learned.