U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is following developments “with great concern" and “urges all involved to desist from any form of incitement that threatens democratic consolidation and the stability of the country," U,N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.
Guterres calls on the armed forces to strictly abide by their constitutional obligations and urges all parties to respect the outcome of the Feb. 21 presidential election “and allow for an orderly and peaceful transfer of power," Dujarric said.
The overnight crackle of gunfire in the neighborhood near the palace immediately prompted concerns of a coup attempt given that Niger has a long history of the military seizing power by force since its independence from France in 1960.
The last successful coup took place in February 2010 when armed soldiers stormed the presidential palace, overthrowing strongman president Mamadou Tandja. The soldiers later announced on state TV that they were in control of the country.
New elections were held the following year, bringing the current president to power. He is stepping down on Friday after serving two terms, in accordance with Niger’s constitution.
In 2016, authorities said four military officers had confessed to planning an attempt to overthrow the government.
Larson reported from Dakar, Senegal.