VIDEO:Niger soldiers go on television to announce coup removing President Mohamed Bazoum from power

Niger soldiers went on television on Wednesday night, July 26, to say they had removed President Mohamed Bazoum from power several hours after the presidential guard had barricaded the pro-western leader in his residence.

Colonel Amadou Abdramane, dressed in military fatigues and surrounded by nine other officers, said defence and security forces had decided to “put an end to the regime due to the deteriorating security situation and bad governance”.

Abdramane said on television that the army had suspended the constitution, shut the international airport and declared a curfew. It was keeping Bazoum safe, he said.

He warned foreign powers not to intervene after a succession of statements from regional and international leaders condemning the moves against Bazoum and calling for the preservation of democracy.

If the coup is successful it would be the latest in a succession of military coups in a region that has turned against France and the west.

Bazoum was an important western ally in the fight against a spreading jihadist insurgency in the Sahel region and had also co-operated with the EU in reducing the flow of people who use Niger as a transit country on their journey towards Europe.

Niger, one of the poorest countries in the world, is a huge landlocked state in the Sahel, a semi-desert region beneath the Sahara.

It was not clear whether the coup leaders had the support of all the armed forces. Earlier on Wednesday, the army had said it stood by the president and by “legality” and was ready to fight the presidential guard if it did not release the president.

Antony Blinken, US secretary of state, tweeted that he had spoken to Bazoum and conveyed his support for democracy in the country. The EU issued a statement calling for Bazoum’s immediate release, adding: “Niger is a pole of stability in the region and it must remain so.”

Bazoum, who was elected in 2021 in Niger’s first democratic transfer of power since independence, had by contrast welcomed French troops and courted European and US help in combating jihadist attacks