World leaders have reacted to an apparent coup attempt in Niger on Wednesday, after President Mohamed Bazoum was detained by the Presidential Guard in the capital Niamey.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he spoke with the Nigerien president “earlier this morning and made clear that the United States resolutely supports him as the democratically elected president of Niger. We call for his immediate release.” Blinken was speaking at a joint press conference in New Zealand during a two-day visit.
On Wednesday, the new head of regional bloc ECOWAS, Nigerian President Bola Tinubu said that Benin’s President Patrice Talon would be travelling to Niger on a mediation mission. Talon was in Abuja for a meeting with the Nigerian leader. It is unclear whether he will be mediating on behalf of ECOWAS or Tinubu himself.
Speaking before his departure, Talon said, “All means will be used, if necessary, to restore constitutional order in Niger, but ideally everything should happen in peace and harmony.”
“The situation is worrying enough that ECOWAS and President Tinubu, the President of Nigeria, a neighbour of Niger, with Benin, also a neighbour of Niger, take it seriously and want to act quickly,” Talon added.
Tinubu, was elected to lead ECOWAS in July, has pushed for a return to democracy in West African countries now run by military governments. The 15-member bloc has seen five coups in three of its member countries since 2020.
“Without democracy there’s no governance, there’s no freedom, there’s no rule of law. We will not allow coup after coup in West Africa sub-region,” Tinubu said in July.