Niger Republic Junta Arrests Top Politicians, Ministers As US, Germany, Others Impose Sanctions

It was learnt that the junta forces arrested the ousted government’s mines minister, the head of the ruling party, and oil minister Mahamane Mahamadou, who is also the son of former president, Issoufou Mahamadou.

No fewer than four ministers in Niger Republic, a former minister and the head of the ousted president Mohamed Bazoum’s party have been arrested by the military junta which seized power on July 26, the party said on Monday.

It was learnt that the junta forces arrested the ousted government’s mines minister, the head of the ruling party, and oil minister Mahamane Mahamadou, who is also the son of former president, Issoufou Mahamadou.

“After the president was detained last week, the putschists went on the attack again and carried out more arrests,” the Nigerien Party for Democracy and Socialism (PNDS) said in a statement to AFP.

“On Monday morning, Oil Minister Mahamane Sani Mahamadou, the son of influential former president Mahamadou Issoufou and Mining Minister Ousseini Hadizatou were arrested,” it said.

The head of the PNDS’s national executive committee, Fourmakoye Gado, was also arrested, it said. The junta had previously arrested Interior Minister Hama Amadou Souley, Transport Minister Oumarou Malam Alma and Kalla Moutari, an MP and former defence minister, the party said.

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It called for their immediate release, saying Niger risked becoming a “dictatorial and totalitarian regime.” A source close to the presidency said the minister for vocational teaching, Kassoum Moctar, had also been arrested.
The arrests coincided with a statement by the junta requiring “all former ministers and heads of institutions” to hand back their office cars by noon. Bazoum was toppled last Wednesday by members of the presidential guard, whose head, Abdourahamane Tiani, has declared himself the country’s new leader.

His claim is unrecognised internationally and the West African regional bloc ECOWAS has warned of possible military intervention if the putschists fail to hand back power by Sunday. Western allies of Niger have also suspended aid to the country or threatened to do so.

Meanwhile, the new junta on Monday accused France of seeking to “intervene militarily” to reinstate deposed President Mohamed Bazoum as tension mounted with the country’s former colonial power and neighbors. Bazoum, a western ally whose election just over two years ago was a watershed in Niger’s troubled history, was toppled on July 26 by the elite Presidential Guard.

Guards chief General Abdourahamane Tiani declared himself leader – but his claim has been shunned internationally and the West African bloc ECOWAS has given him a week to hand back power. On Sunday, French President Emmanuel Macron vowed “immediate and uncompromising” action if French citizens or interests were attacked after thousands rallied outside the French embassy.

Some of them tried to enter the compound but were dispersed by tear gas. The junta on Monday accused France of plotting an intervention. “In its search for ways and means to intervene militarily in Niger, France with the complicity of some Nigeriens, held a meeting with the chief of staff of the Nigerien National Guard to obtain the necessary political and military authorisation,” it said on national TV.

ECOWAS has suspended all commercial and financial transactions, while France, the European Union and the United States, which has about a thousand troops in Niger, have either cut off support or threatened to do so. Germany suspended financial aid and development cooperation on Monday, and UN humanitarian operations have also been put on hold.

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