Headquarters of Niger’s Ruling Party Set on fire;As Foreign Minister Calls on population to oppose Coup

Headquarters of Niger’s Ruling Party Set on fire;
As Foreign Minister Calls on population to oppose Coup

Supporters of a coup in Niger have attacked the headquarters of the ousted president’s party, setting it on fire, while stoning and burning cars outside.

The small group of arsonists had broken away from a larger show of support for the coup leaders outside parliament, where Russian flags were on display.

Russia had joined other countries and the UN in calling for Mr Bazoum’s release.

The 64-year-old, who was elected as Niger’s president two years ago, is a key Western ally in the fight against Islamist militants in West Africa.

Mr Bazoum tweeted a defiant statement on Thursday morning: “The hard-won achievements will be safeguarded. All Nigeriens who love democracy and freedom will see to it.”

His foreign minister has also been trying to rally support and urge dialogue, but the army chief of staff said he was backing the takeover to avoid fighting within the armed forces.

It remains unclear who is really in charge of Niger as the junta has not announced its leader.

State TV has been repeating the late-night coup announcement interspersed with patriotic music and Quranic verses – and its usual lunchtime news bulletin was not aired.

In Niamey, the capital city, shops and markets opened for business,but after the heavy rain early in the morning, coup supporters took to the streets.

The hundreds who gathered outside the National Assembly had some Russian flags, while others held up hand-written signs saying: “Down with France” and “Foreign bases out”.

Police later fired tear gas to disperse those who had gone to the headquarters of the ruling party, where party activists ran away on seeing the protesters arrive.

Some people were injured in the fracas and the burnt-out carcasses of vehicles now surround the PNDS Tarraya party building.

The coup supporters accuse the party of corruption and not doing enough to improve the security situation and end the long-running jihadist insurgency.

Meanwhile, Niger’s Foreign Minister, Mr. Hassoumi Massoudou has called on the population to oppose the takeover.

In an interview with the channel France24, he said that the situation could still be resolved through dialogue adding that envoys sent from neighbouring Nigeria were talking to the military.

The President of Benin Republic, Mr. Patrice Talon who planned to a mediation mission on behalf of the West African regional bloc, Ecowas, has had to abandon his trip because of the border closure.

The vast arid country on the edge of the Sahara desert – one of the world’s poorest nations – has experienced four coups since independence from France in 1960, as well as numerous attempted coups.

Two neighbouring countries, Mali and Burkina Faso, have also experienced coups triggered by Islamist uprisings in recent years.

In both countries the new military leaders have moved closer to Russia after falling out with France.

The takeover was announced by a spokesman, Col Maj Amadou Abdramane, who said the takeover was instigated by the deteriorating security situation “and poor economic and social governance”.

But Niger’s private L’Enqueteur newspaper has suggested the coup was prompted by President Bazoum’s attempt to remove Gen Abdourahamane Tchiani as commander of the presidential guard.

Source: BBC

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