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Niger Republic botched coup: Dissidents arrested, calm returns

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Following a botched attempt at seizing power in Niger Republic on Wednesday morning, report said some dissident soldiers have been arrested.

After gunfire broke out in the capital, Niamey and with the insurrection contained, “the situation is now under control”.

The attempted coup came just two days before President-elect Mohamed Bazoum is due to take oath of office.

“There were some arrests among a few members of the army who are behind this attempted coup,” a source was quoted as saying.

“The Presidential Guard retaliated, preventing this group of soldiers from approaching the presidential palace.”

A resident of Niamey’s Plateau district, which includes the president’s official residence and offices, said: “It was around 3.00 am, we heard shots from heavy and light weapons and it lasted 15 minutes before stopping, followed by shots from light weapons.”

“The gunfire lasted about 20 minutes,” another resident said.

A third resident spoke of “intense shooting, with heavy and light weapons”.

However, an online newspaper actuniger.com had reported that calm had returned by 4.00 am.

Bazoum is scheduled for inauguration on Friday, April 2, the first elected transition in Niger’s history since independence from France in 1960.

Bazoum is a former interior minister and right-hand man of outgoing president Mahamadou Issoufou, who is voluntarily stepping down after two five-year terms.

His victory in the second round of the election on February 2 was confirmed by the constitutional court this month.

The results were contested by Bazoum’s rival, former president Mahamane Ousmane, who claimed he was the real winner.

Ousmane had called for “peaceful marches” across the country, but a planned opposition protest Wednesday in Niamey was banned a day earlier by authorities.

Niger is the poorest country in the world, according to the benchmark of the UN’s 189-nation Human Development Index.

It has suffered four coups in its history, most recently a February 2010 putsch which toppled then president Mamadou Tandja.

The Sahel country has also recently been struck by repeated jihadist attacks as Islamist movements have spilled over from neighbouring Mali and Nigeria.

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