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Niger calm after controversial coup

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Niger calm after controversial coup
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It appears to be business as usual in Niger, a day after the country’s president was ousted in a military coup.

Markets, banks and schools remained open and there was only a lightly-armed military presence on the streets.

The African Union has suspended Niger while the European Union and Niger’s former colonial ruler France have joined the AU in condemning the coup and urged a return to civilian government.

The new military leadership said in a televised address on Thursday that it aimed to restore democracy.

President Mamadou Tandja was seized during a gunbattle on Thursday as he held a cabinet meeting. An army official has said he is being detained and is in good health.

Tandja was criticised at home and abroad last year after changing the constitution, allowing him to remain in power indefinitely. His party’s victory in October’s elections was denounced as fraudulent by the opposition and criticised abroad.

Niger suffers from chronic poverty, with more than 60 per cent of the population living on less than a dollar a day. But recent investment in uranium mining has boosted hopes of better economic times.