Niger coup: Lahbib calls for "immediate release of democratically elected president"

Belgian minister of Foreign Affairs Hadja Lahbib is calling for "the immediate release of the democratically elected president and a return to constitutional order" in response to the coup in the African country of Niger.

"Recent developments in #Niger pose a threat to the country's stability and the #Sahel. It is crucial to safeguard the democratic progress," tweeted Minister Lahbib, who already joined the EU on Wednesday in condemning the "destabilising actions" in Niger. "The president of Niger is the legitimate authority, he was democratically elected," she echoed at the time.

"Support and gratitude"

In a second tweet, Lahbib added that she "conveyed Belgium's support to and expressed gratitude for [the president's] efforts towards achieving stability and restoring constitutional order in #Niger, efforts that need to be sustained."

In the African country, the army appears to have deposed president Mohamed Bazoum, who is being held by military putschists at the presidential palace in Niamey. President Bazoum himself says democratic gains in the country "remain guaranteed". Nigerian Foreign minister Hamoudi Massoudou claims that only an attempted coup has taken place, stresses that Bazoum's regime represents the "legitimate authorities" and calls on the "recalcitrant officers" for dialogue.

Military support

The general staff of the Nigerien armed forces says it endorses the "statement" of the military putschists read out on national television on Wednesday night. In that statement, they announced that they had put an end to the regime of president Bazoum.

"The military command of the Nigerien armed forces" has "decided to endorse the statement of the defence and security forces", states a press release signed by general Abdou Sidikou Issa, the army chief of staff, who says he wants to avoid "a deadly confrontation between the various troops".



Foreign minister Hadja Lahbib © BELGA PHOTO JAMES ARTHUR GEKIERE

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