The military leadership of a coup in Niger say they have suspended the country’s constitution and dissolved all state powers.
The announcement comes after Niger’s President Mamadou Tandja was seized following a four-hour gun battle in the capital, Niamey.
Speaking on state television, the spokesman for the junta said:’‘We call on the national and international community to support us in our patriotic move to save Niger and its population from poverty, deception and corruption.’‘
President Tandja and a number of government ministers are being held by the group, which calls itself the Supreme Council for the Restoration of Democracy.
Political tensions have been high in the West African uranium-rich nation in recent months since Tandja decided to extend his rule beyond his second five-year presidential mandate. That move drew widespread protests at home and also resulted in sanctions from abroad.
In December, the US terminated trade benefits while the EU suspended its aid payments to the poverty-stricken nation.
Niger’s new military leaders, reportedly headed by General Adamou Harouna, have so far given no indication of how long they intend to hold on to power.
Military coup suspends Niger constitution