Captive President Bazoum defiant after takeover
After soldiers announced a coup overnight in Niger, President Mohamed Bazoum issued a defiant message on Twitter.
His captivity began early on Wednesday morning when troops from the presidential guard seized him.
While the foreign minister has said the junta does not have the support of the whole military, the army chief has now said he supports the takeover.
In the fight against Islamist militants, Mr Bazoum is a key Western ally.
Both the United States and France have military bases in the uranium-rich country.
In addition, the UN and the EU have called for the immediate release of Mr Bazoum, with Secretary of State Antony Blinken promising Washington’s “unwavering support.”
In a tweet on Thursday morning, the 64-year-old Nigerian president said: “The hard-won achievements will be safeguarded by all Nigeriens who love democracy and freedom.”
Currently, Niamey, the capital, is deserted due to heavy rains all morning.
A march planned by supporters of the takeover has not taken place due to the downpours.
The turn of events has divided people in Niger sharply.
On Wednesday, hundreds of supporters of the president defied the soldiers to march out on the streets and demand that the military return to its barracks.
In this bloodless takeover of power, the only gunfire heard was warning shots.
They have said they will not accept the coup, but it is unclear how they will oppose it. So far, no more protests have been called in the streets.
The military’s actions have been welcomed by some, while others have accused the ousted ruling party of corruption and not doing enough to end the long-running jihadist insurgency.
During the past few years, Mali and Burkina Faso have experienced coups triggered by jihadist uprisings.
After falling out with France, the former colonial power, which also formerly ruled Niger, the new military leaders have moved closer to Russia.