Soldiers Attempt Coup in Niger, Its President’s Office Says

Soldiers from the presidential guard of Niger blockaded the presidential palace and attempted a coup in the West African nation on Wednesday, according to the Nigerien president’s office and news reports.

The fate of the country’s president, Mohamed Bazoum, was unclear, although the presidency said that he was safe.

“Early this Wednesday morning, elements of the Presidential Guard engaged in an anti-Republican mood movement and tried in vain to obtain the support of the National Armed Forces and the National Guard,” the Nigerien presidency said on Twitter, in a post that is no longer visible.

It added that the military was standing ready to “attack the elements” behind the mutiny “if they do not return to better feelings.”

If the claim is confirmed, Niger would be the latest West African country to face a coup attempt in the past two years after a resurgence of military-led ousters in countries like Burkina Faso, Guinea and Mali.

Mr. Bazoum, who was elected in 2021, has been one of the most reliable partners to many Western countries in a volatile region filled with aging presidents clinging to power and young military officers who seized power by force.

Last year, the European Union pledged to provide $1.3 billion to diversify Niger’s economy away from oil. During a visit to the country in March, Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken announced $150 million in humanitarian assistance to Niger and neighboring countries.

“Niger is a young democracy in a challenging part of the world, but it remains true to the democratic values that we share,” Mr. Blinken said in Niamey, the capital. “And Niger has been quick to defend democratic values under threat in neighboring countries.”

Niger has also held strategic importance for France, the former colonizer that has faced rising discontent from neighboring countries of Niger in recent years. France withdrew troops from Mali and Burkina Faso, after relationships with military juntas there soured.

Ulf Laessing, the head of the Sahel program at the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, noted in an interview that Niamey was calm when he traveled there last week.

But he added that Mr. Bazoum may have faced growing discontent from parts of the military that have not received funding from Western partners, and regular Nigeriens, especially in Niamey, who are suffering hardship amid factors including a rising cost of living because of the growing presence of foreigners.

“Niger is stable,” Mr. Laessing said. “It has lots of friends and money coming in, but for people in Niamey, prices are going up and the benefits are not yet clear.”

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.