Attempted coup thwarted at Niger’s presidential palace days ahead of transition of power

Heavy gunshots were heard outside of Niger’s presidential palace in the capital city of Niamey early Wednesday morning in what authorities have said was an attempted coup.

The group’s attack was met with reciprocal gunfire and shelling from the presidential guard, forcing remaining assailants to flee after a gunfight.

The attackers reportedly came from a nearby airbase and a few sources have claimed that the group comprised of members of the military.

The attempted coup comes just a couple days before newly elected president Mohamed Bazoum is set to be sworn in on Friday. Bazoum is to succeed President Mahamadou Issoufou, who is stepping down after two terms in office.

Bazoum’s electoral victory has been vehemently disputed by his opposition, who have claimed there was fraud.

“The government condemns this cowardly and retrograde act which seeks to jeopardise the democracy and the rule of law to which our country is resolutely committed,” a spokesperson for the Niger government said of the attack.

While Wednesday’s attempted coup was thwarted, political tensions remain- especially as a new president is set to be sworn in April 2. The increase in politically motivated attacks has left many wondering just how smooth, peaceful, and democratic this transition of power will be.

Noah Pitcher is a global politics correspondent for Today News Africa covering the U.S. government, United Nations, African Union, and other actors involved in international developments, political controversies, and humanitarian issues.

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