Niger’s President, Mohamed Bazoum, is reported to be in “good health” despite being held at his residence by coup plotters, according to France’s foreign minister, Catherine Colonna.
President Bazoum had a conversation with French President Emmanuel Macron early Friday, reassuring him of his well-being.
Since Wednesday, access to President Bazoum’s residence and offices has been blocked by members of the elite Presidential Guard, who initiated the coup attempt. Niger, a landlocked West African nation, has a history of instability, having experienced four coups since gaining independence from France in 1960, along with various other attempts at seizing power.
The coup leaders claim to have garnered broad support from the army and have called for calm. Despite this, former colonial power France does not consider the apparent putsch as final and has expressed concern over the situation.
France’s foreign minister, Colonna, stated that there are potential ways for the coup plotters to find a peaceful resolution, urging them to consider the widespread global condemnation of President Bazoum’s ouster.\
The Sahel region in Africa has been grappling with political turbulence, and President Bazoum has remained resolute amidst denunciations from various African and international organizations, as well as allies like Germany and the United States, in addition to France.
“The hard-won (democratic) gains will be safeguarded,” Bazoum said on Twitter, which is being rebranded as X.
Colonna said Friday that Bazoum was in “good health” and had spoken to President Emmanuel Macron.
“If you hear me talking about an attempted coup, it’s because we don’t consider things final,” she said.
“There is still a way out if those responsible listen to the international community.”
She said the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) would hold a summit “probably on Sunday”, where “possible sanctions could be decided”, adding that France would support sanctions.
France, which has 1,500 soldiers in Niger, previously called for “the restoration of the integrity of Nigerien democratic institutions”.
But armed forces chief General Abdou Sidikou Issa has swung his weight behind the putschists.
“The military command… has decided to subscribe to the declaration made by the Defence and Security Forces… in order to avoid a deadly confrontation,” he said in a statement.
The landlocked state is one of the world’s poorest. Since gaining independence from France in 1960, it has experienced four coups as well as numerous other attempts — including two previously against Bazoum.
The 63-year-old is one of a dwindling group of elected presidents and pro-Western leaders in the Sahel, where a jihadist insurgency has triggered coups in Mali and Burkina Faso.
Their juntas have forced out French troops, and in Mali, the ruling military has woven a close alliance with Russia.