Niger’s President Mohamed Bazoum was elected two years ago in the first peaceful, democratic transfer of power since independence in 1960.
But on July 26, members of his own presidential guard removed him from office, in the third coup in as many years to topple a leader in the Sahel region. The coup leaders say they want to prevent further economic and security problems.
Here are the key events that have happened since the coup:
Wednesday, July 26
- Mutinous soldiers detained President Mohamed Bazoum at his official residence in the capital Niamey. They announced they seized power in a coup because of the West African country’s deteriorating security situation.
- In a statement broadcast on national television, Colonel-Major Amadou Abdramane said, “The defence and security forces … have decided to put an end to the regime you are familiar with … This follows the continuous deterioration of the security situation, the bad social and economic management.”
- The coup leaders announced that the country’s borders were closed.
Thursday, July 27
- A statement posted by the Nigerien army command’s account declared it would back the coup to avoid a “murderous confrontation” that could lead to a “bloodbath”.
- General Abdourahmane “Omar” Tchiani, commander of the presidential guards, appointed himself head of the country’s new military government.
- Unrest broke out as hundreds of supporters of the coup ransacked and set fire to the headquarters of the governing party in Niamey.
- In a Telegram voice message, Wagner Group mercenary boss Yevgeny Prigozhin appeared to hail the military coup and offered his fighters’ services to bring order.
- Meanwhile, Bazoum defiantly declared that democracy would prevail in the country.
Saturday, July 29
- The European Union cut off financial support to Niger while the African Union (AU) called on the coup leaders to return to their barracks.
- The French foreign ministry said France suspended all development aid and budget support with immediate effect, demanding a prompt return to constitutional order with Bazoum back in charge. French development aid for Niger was at approximately 120 million euros ($130m) in 2022, and was expected to be slightly higher this year.
Sunday, July 30
- At an emergency summit in Nigeria, the 15-nation Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) regional bloc demanded that Bazoum be reinstated within a week. Otherwise, the bloc said it would take “all measures” to restore constitutional order. “Such measures may include the use of force for this effect,” ECOWAS said.
- The bloc slapped financial sanctions on the coup leaders and the country, freezing “all commercial and financial transactions” between member states and Niger, one of the world’s poorest nations.
Monday, July 31
- A German foreign ministry spokesperson said at a news briefing that all direct support payments to the central government of Niger would be suspended until further notice.
- A planned 30 billion CFA franc ($50m) bond issuance by Niger in the West African regional debt market was cancelled by the Central Bank of West African States (BCEAO), market sources said.
- The Kremlin stated the situation in Niger was “cause for serious concern”.
Tuesday, August 1
- Niger announced the reopening of its land and air borders with several of its neighbours – Algeria, Burkina Faso, Mali, Libya and Chad. The reopened borders are mainly in remote desert areas. Niger’s key entryways for trade and commerce remained closed due to restrictions imposed by ECOWAS.
- The first of three flights to evacuate French and European citizens from Niger left in the evening, after France, Italy and Spain announced evacuations for their citizens and other European nationals.
- Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to the Ukrainian president, accused Russia of being behind the coup.
Wednesday, August 2
- ECOWAS sent a delegation to Niger, led by former Nigerian military leader Abdulsalami Abubakar, to negotiate with the military government.
- Regional defence chiefs began a two-day meeting in neighbouring Nigeria.
- Nigeria cut power to Niger, according to state utility documents. The latter depends on Nigeria for 70 percent of its power.
- In a televised address, General Abdourahmane Tchiani criticised sanctions imposed by West African leaders as “illegal” and “inhumane” and urged his countrymen to get ready to defend their nation.
- The United States ordered all non-emergency government personnel to temporarily evacuate its embassy in Niger.
Thursday, August 3
- On Niger’s 63rd independence anniversary, hundreds of people backing the coup gathered for a mass rally in Niamey, with some brandishing giant Russian flags.
- US President Joe Biden called for the immediate release of Bazoum and his family, and for the country’s democracy to be preserved.
- Amadou Abdramane, spokesperson for the coup makers, announced the revocation of five military cooperation agreements with France. Niger also suspended broadcasts of French state-funded international news outlets France 24 and RFI, drawing condemnation from the French foreign ministry.
Friday, August 4
- ECOWAS military chiefs agreed to a plan for a possible military intervention to respond to the crisis, with the armies of countries including Senegal and Ivory Coast saying they were ready to participate.
- US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement that Washington is pausing “certain foreign assistance programmes benefitting the government of Niger”.
Saturday, August 5
- A news report said that coup generals asked for help from the Wagner Group as the ECOWAS deadline to restore Bazoum to power neared.
Sunday, August 6
- Tens of thousands of coup supporters, many of whom carried Russian flags, gathered at a stadium in Niamey for a rally as the deadline set by ECOWAS to return Bazoum to power expired.
- Coup leaders closed the country’s airspace.
Monday, August 7
- US acting Deputy Secretary of State Victoria Nuland said she held “frank and difficult” talks with military leader Moussa Salaou Barmou and three of his colonels in Niamey. She said requests to meet with Bazoum and Tchiani were denied.
Tuesday, August 8
- The AU planned to send a joint mission with representatives of the United Nations and ECOWAS to Niger, but it was denied permission by the military government, French magazine Jeune Afrique reported.
Wednesday, August 9
- Rhissa Ag Boula, former rebel leader and politician in Niger, said his new Council of Resistance for the Republic (CRR) has launched a movement that aims to reinstate Bazoum, a first sign of internal resistance to army rule.
- Coup leaders accused French forces of freeing captured “terrorists” and breaching a ban on the country’s airspace in an attempt to destabilise Niger, as France promptly rejected the allegations.
Thursday, August 10
- Coup leaders announced a list of 21 people to become ministers in a new government.
- At an emergency summit in Nigeria’s Abuja, ECOWAS heads of state said all options including the “use of force” remained on the table to restore constitutional order in Niger. The bloc ordered the activation of its standby force.
Friday, August 11
- The US’s Blinken held a telephone call with Bazoum’s predecessor, former President Mahamadou Issoufou, to talk about the “deteriorating conditions”. Media reports emerged that Bazoum and his family were allegedly surviving on rice and pasta and living without electricity.
Saturday, August 12
- ECOWAS members were due to meet in the Ghanaian capital, Accra, to discuss how to tackle the Niger crisis after they approved the deployment of a stand-by force, but the meeting was indefinitely suspended for “technical reasons”.
Sunday, August 13
- A group of Nigerian Islamic scholars who met Niger’s coup leader announced that the general agreed to hold direct talks and resolve a standoff with West African leaders.
- Hours after the group made the announcement, Niger’s military said it would prosecute Bazoum for “high treason and undermining the internal and external security” of the country.
Tuesday, August 15
- Russian President Vladimir Putin “stressed the importance of a peaceful resolution of the situation for a more stable Sahel,” Mali’s military leader Assimi Goita said after a phone call with the Russian president. The Kremlin said in a statement that the call was initiated by Mali.
- At least 17 Niger soldiers were killed in an attack by armed groups near the border with Mali, the country’s Ministry of Defence said in a statement.
Thursday, August 17
- All member states except those under military rule and Cape Verde are ready to participate in the standby force as a last resort to restore democracy, ECOWAS Commissioner Abdel-Fatau Musah announced after defence chiefs from the regional bloc met in Accra, Ghana.
Friday, August 18
- ECOWAS agreed on a “D-day” for possible military intervention to restore democracy in Niger, as military chiefs held a second day of talks in Ghana. Eleven of the bloc’s 15 member states agreed to commit troops to the operation.
Saturday, August 19
- An ECOWAS delegation held talks with military government leader Tchiani and met with Bazoum, the first time foreign officials have seen the toppled leader in weeks. Niger’s governing military council confirmed the arrival of the ECOWAS representatives, headed by former Nigerian leader Abdulsalami Abubakar.
- After meeting the delegation, Tchiani proposed a three-year transition of power and warned that any attack on the country would “not be a walk in the park” for those involved. Speaking on national television, he gave no details on the potential transition, saying only that the principles for the move would be decided within 30 days at a dialogue to be hosted by the ruling military council.