Former Niger officials arrested including ruling party head according to AFP after military junta accused France of planning an attack
The junta in Niger has arrested four ministers, a former minister, and the head of overthrown President Mohamed Bazoum’s party, the Nigerien Party for Democracy and Socialism (PNDS), AFP reported on Monday, citing a statement from the political group.
Earlier on Monday, Oil Minister Mahamane Sani Mahamadou, Mining Minister Ousseini Hadizatou, and the leader of the PNDS’s national executive committee, Fourmakoye Gado, were all detained according to the PNDS.
The party also claimed that Interior Minister Hama Amadou Souley, Transport Minister Oumarou Malam Alma, and Kalla Moutari, an MP and former defense minister, had been detained earlier.
Supporters of the Nigerien defence and security forces gather during a demonstration outside the national assembly in Niamey on July 27, 2023 © AFP
Bazoum has been in detention since Wednesday, when members of his security detail seized power.”After the president was detained last week, the putschists went on the attack again and carried out more arrests,” the PNDS said, demanding their “immediate release.”
The arrests coincide with a directive by the newly formed military council (CNSP) requiring all “former ministers and directors of institutions” to return vehicles in their custody “no later than Monday” at 12pm local time to the various ministerial departments and directorates.
The regional West African bloc, ECOWAS, has issued strong condemnation and punitive measures in response to Wednesday’s coup, imposing both financial and economic sanctions on Niamey.
Germany announced the suspension of financial aid and cooperation with Niger on Monday, becoming the latest Western power to do so in the aftermath of last week’s putsch.
Last week, the European Union, which had allocated €503 million ($554 million) from its budget to improve governance, education, and sustainable development in Niger over 2021-2024, also cut financial and security support to Niamey.
France, which said its embassy was attacked by thousands of junta supporters on Sunday, has suspended development aid and budget support actions in its former colony.
On Sunday, the junta accused France of plotting a military strike to free Bazoum.
In a statement on Monday, Colonel Amadou Abdramane, one of the coup leaders, claimed that France, an ally of the country in fighting jihadist insurgencies, has been seeking a means to “intervene militarily” in the situation.
“France, with the complicity of certain Nigeriens, held a meeting at the General Staff of the National Guard of Niger to obtain necessary political and military authorizations,” Abdramane stated.
According to him, Nigerien Foreign Minister Hassoumi Massoudou and Maj. Midou Guirey, commander of the national guard, both cleared Paris to “carry out strikes.”
Paris has yet to respond to the accusation, but has stated that it recognizes Bazoum as the only legitimate authority in the West African country.