African News

Violence erupts in Niger

As one of Africa’s dictatorship edges to end
By Kemo Cham

As President Abdoulie Wade partied in Gambia, his newly assigned territory as mediator got caught on fire, as a high profile member of the club of African dictators got close to his demise.
Media reports coming from Niger indicate that the military there are close to taking over the government from Mamadou Tandja, who defied the whole world by changing his country’s constitution to perpetuate his stay in office.
While some reports now described the situation in Niger as attempted coup, others give accounts of heavy gun battles and explosions at the presidential palace in Niamey.
The whereabouts of the president are reported to be unknown at this point.
According to some media reports, diplomatic sources are saying that Mr Tandja could be in the custody of the mutinous soldiers.
Reports say that heavy fighting started about midday local time.
There are also reports of people been taken to hospital, with soldiers and armoured vehicles scattered about streets near the presidential palace.
AU reaction
“We are always concerned whenever there is a report of a coup to be in the making or even the threat of a coup because this obviously is contrary to what we aspire for the continent to be: a continent free of unconstitutional changes of government. So we will be following closely the news,” African Union Peace and Security Commissioner, Ramtane Lamamra, has been quoted as saying in Ethiopia.
Just about 48 hours ago, Acting Nigerian president, Goodluck Jonathan, warned that there would be room for coups on the continent. It was at that very same ECOWAS meeting that Senegal’s President Wade was appointed by his peers to mediate in the Niger crisis, taking over from former Nigerian leader, General Abdul Salami Abubacarr.
President Abdoulie Wade is reported to have left Banjul in the early hours of Thursday, where he was the special guest of Gambian leader, Yahya Jammeh, as Gambia celebrates its 45th Independence anniversary.
ECOWAS condemnation
In a statement late Thursday, Acting President Goodluck Jonathan, said ECOWAS “condemns once again all acts of ascension to power and remaining in power by unconstitutional means.”
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) chairman “has expressed deep concern about the reports of shooting around the presidency in Niamey,” a statement from Jonathan’s office said.

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