Late on Wednesday, a group of soldiers appeared on Niger's national television, announcing the removal of President Mohamed Bazoum from power.
The coup came just hours after the president was held in the presidential palace. Colonel Amadou Abdramane, flanked by nine other officers, read a statement declaring that the decision to overthrow the regime was made due to the deteriorating security situation and bad governance in the country.
As a result of the military takeover, Niger's borders have been closed, a nationwide curfew has been imposed, and all institutions of the republic are suspended. The soldiers warned against foreign intervention and assured that they would respect Bazoum's safety.
This marks the seventh coup in the West and Central Africa region since 2020, adding to the complexity of Western efforts to assist Sahel countries in combating a spreading jihadist insurgency originating from Mali over the past decade.
Niger has been a crucial ally for Western powers in their fight against insurgencies in the region. However, acrimony from the new juntas in charge in Mali and Burkina Faso has complicated these efforts.
Additionally, Niger's partnership with the European Union in combating irregular migration from sub-Saharan Africa has been significant.
The United States and Germany have also invested heavily in Niger's security. The US has spent approximately $500 million since 2012 to bolster the country's security forces. Meanwhile, Germany announced its participation in a three-year European military mission aimed at enhancing Niger's military capabilities.
Ulf Laessing, head of the Sahel program for Germany's Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung think-tank, expressed concern that Bazoum's removal could provide an opportunity for other actors like Russia to increase their influence in Niger.
Earlier on Wednesday, General Omar Tchiani and the presidential guards had taken over the presidency, prompting regional leaders to organize a swift mediation mission to prevent the coup.
Frustrations over the government's failure to prevent violent attacks have been among the factors leading to the recent coups in the region.
The African Union and the West African regional bloc ECOWAS condemned the attempted coup d'etat. Neighboring Benin's President, Patrice Talon, flew to Niger to assess the situation and emphasized the importance of restoring constitutional order peacefully.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken stressed that the economic and security partnership with Niger depended on the continuation of democratic governance.