Niger Republic President to be sworn in after ‘attempted coup’

Niger Republic President to be sworn in after ‘attempted coup’
Charles Nwoke, Niamey, Niger
April 2, 2021 

Above image; “Meeting with Nigerian Minister of Interior Mohamed Bazoum, a key player of the #EU-#Niger cooperation in the fight against migrant smuggling” by Avramopoulos is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0
Bazoum, pictured left. 

The newly-elected president of the Niger Republic, Mohamed Bazoum is set to be sworn into office today, Friday, after a democratic watershed overshadowed by Islamic extremist violence and an alleged attempted coup bid on him two days ago.

The inauguration will be the first of its kind that the country is transitioning between elected presidents in Niger’s six decades of independence from France — a widely praised historic moment in the country’s existence.

The Sahel country’s instability and insecurity have been deeply underscored in the run-up to today’s inauguration ceremony.

In the early hours of Wednesday, after gunfire broke out near the presidency in the capital Niamey, the government announced that an “attempted coup” had been boycotted, a “cowardly and regressive act which sought to threaten democracy and the state of law,” it stated.

The alleged coup leader is an air force officer in charge of security at Niamey’s airbase, and he is being “actively sought”, a source within Niger’s security services told AFP on Wednesday.

Another security source said, “a few members of the army” had been behind the coup but had been prevented from approaching the presidential palace by the elite Presidential Guard.

“Some arrests” were made, the source said.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was among worried foreign leaders, calling the armed forces “to strictly abide by their constitutional obligations”.

Bazoum, 60, is a former interior minister and right-hand man of outgoing president Mahamadou Issoufou, 68, who has voluntarily stepped down after two five-year terms.

Bazoum won a runoff vote for the presidency in February with 55.6 percent of the ballot, according to official results contested by his opponent, Mahamane Ousmane.

But his most formidable rival, former premier Hama Amadou, was banned from running because of a conviction for baby trafficking — a charge he has branded politically motivated.

Niger is the poorest country in the world, according to the benchmark of the UN’s 189-nation Human Development Index (HDI).

The West African nation has suffered four coups in its history, most recently a February 2010 putsch that toppled then-president Mamadou Tandja.

It has also been ravaged by repeated jihadist attacks, from insurgents who have advanced from Mali in the west and Nigeria in the southeast.

More than 300 people have been killed in three attacks in the west since the start of the year.