Niamey, Jul 31 (EFE).- Three government ministers in Niger, as well as the leader of the deposed president’s party, have been arrested, police sources told Efe on Monday.
The ruling military junta, dubbed the National Council for the Safeguard of the Homeland (CNSP), on Wednesday overthrew the elected government of President Mohamed Bazoum, who is being held by the army at the presidential palace in Niamey.
Those arrested are Sani Issoufou Mahamadou, Minister of Petroleum and son of former President Mahamadou Issoufou (2011-2021); Ousseini Hadizatou Yacoub, Minister of Mines; Alma Oumaru, Minister of Transport, and Foumakoye Gado, president of the Niger Party for Democracy and Socialism (PNSD).
According to the same sources, several other people from the PNSD, the party in power in Niger until the coup d’état last week, were also arrested for posting messages on social media calling for resistance.
The junta has warned citizens not to use social media to “transmit information and political messages likely to disturb public order”, under threat of arrest.
In a statement, the CNSP, led by General Abdourahamane Tiani, warned that alleged offenders “will be arrested by the security forces and placed at the disposal of justice”.
In several messages posted on social media on Sunday, former President Issoufou said he was negotiating to obtain the release of President Bazoum, and “restore him to his functions”.
“Since July 26 (day of the coup), our country has entered a difficult phase in its history,” said Issoufou, Bazoum’s predecessor and member of the same party.
On Wednesday, the junta announced the removal of the president, the suspension of the Constitution and the dissolution of the bodies derived from it, the closure of the borders and a nocturnal curfew until further notice.
It also assumed the power to exercise “all legislative and executive powers” in “waiting for the return to normal constitutional order.”
Earlier on Monday, the junta accused France of planning a military intervention in the country to free Bazoum.
“In its search for ways and means to intervene militarily in Niger, France with the complicity of some Nigeriens, held a meeting at the General Staff of the Niger National Guard to obtain the necessary political and military authorization,” junta spokesperson Amadou Abdramane said in a statement.
Abdramane claimed that the country’s deposed foreign minister Hassoumi Massoudou, acting as prime minister, had signed a document at that meeting authorizing France’s military intervention.
In another statement, the junta spokesperson accused the security guards of the French embassy in Niamey of adopting a “destabilizing attitude” against hundreds of demonstrators on Sunday.
He claimed the security guards had “fired tear gas grenades and used weapons” against protesters that resulted in six injuries. EFE