Soldiers in Niger have announced a coup, imposing a curfew and closing borders in a country that is a key U.S. ally in West Africa.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he spoke with Niger’s President Mohamed Bazoum and said that the U.S. ” strongly support him as the democratically elected president of the country.”
Members of the presidential guard had effectively held Bazoum hostage all day. After midnight, soldiers proclaimed the coup on official television, claiming that the country’s constitution had been dissolved and all institutions had been suspended.
The United States operates drone bases in Niger, a country that has been an essential partner in regional counter-terrorism efforts. According to Blinken, collaboration is dependent on democratic governance and respect for the rule of law.
Since winning independence from France in 1960, Niger has experienced four coups and numerous attempted takeovers, including one against Bazoum.
Niger is a landlocked country in an unstable region, with consecutive military coups in neighboring Mali, which has broken ties with the West and has a strong presence of the Russia-backed Wagner mercenary force.