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Several people have been arrested in Niger while others are on the run after a foiled coup attempt on Wednesday morning.
Government officials said a military unit tried to seize the presidential palace in the capital Niamey overnight.
Assailants from a nearby air base, according to the government fled after the presidential guard met their attack with heavy shelling and gunfire.
The move was an attempted coup just two days before a newly elected president Mohamed Bazoum is inaugurated.
Government spokesman Abdourahamane Zakaria told reporters that “The government condemns this cowardly and retrogressive act that aims to endanger democracy and the rule of law to which our country is resolutely committed.”
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Order has been restored, the government said as it hopes this becomes just the last attempt to thwart efforts at witnessing the country’s first democratic handover of power.
Zakaria said “The government congratulates the presidential guard and the other defense and security forces for their prompt reaction, a testament of their loyalty to the republic.”
Niger’s top court confirmed Bazoum’s victory in the presidential runoff, allowing for him to be sworn into office on April 2.
But since Bazoum’s victory there have been series of attacks by armed groups.
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Former President Mahamane Ousmane, who lost in the runoff, has rejected the results, alleging fraud.
Protests erupted with reported clashes between protesters and police in parts of Niamey when Bazoum was declared winner.
Mahamane Ousmane was elected president in 1993 but was toppled in a coup three years later.
Ousmane, 71, was running for president for the fifth time since he was toppled in a coup.
Bazoum’s inauguration on Friday will be the country’s first transfer of power from one democratically elected leader to another.
The president-elect is a former interior minister and the right-hand man of outgoing President Mahamadou Issoufou, who stepped down after two five-year terms.
His decision was hailed by many and considered significant in promoting democracy in the West African nation.
Issoufou has said “Handing over power in 2021 to a democratically elected successor… will be my greatest achievement.”
Niger’s capital Niamey is now on high alert with hopes that security will be restored to the country as quickly as possible.
Niger like other countries in the Sahel region such as Mali and Burkina Faso, increasingly face issues of security and attacks from militants.