Nigerien President Mohammad Bazoum addresses the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly at the UN headquarters in New York City on September 22, 2022. Image Credit: AFP

ABU DHABI/NIAMEY, Niger: The UAE has condemned the coup attempt in the Republic of Niger, and stressed the importance of maintaining stability and security in the country.

In a statement, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) affirmed that the UAE is following with great concern the developments in Niger.

The UAE emphasised its support for the sovereignty and unity of the country within the framework of constitutional institutions and the rule of law, to achieve the aspirations of the people of Niger.

Meanwhile, Niger’s president defiantly declared that democracy would prevail, a day after mutinous soldiers detained him and announced they had seized power in a coup over the West African country’s deteriorating security situation.

While many people in the capital of Niamey went about their usual business, it remained unclear who was in control of the country and which side the majority might support.

A statement tweeted by the army command’s account declared that it would back the coup in order to avoid a “murderous confrontation” that could lead to a “bloodbath.” It was not possible to confirm that the statement was genuine.

Meanwhile, President Mohammad Bazoum — who was elected in 2021 in Niger’s first peaceful, democratic transfer of power since its independence from France and is a key ally of the West — appeared to have the backing of several political parties.

“The hard-won achievements will be safeguarded. All Nigeriens who love democracy and freedom will see to it,” Bazoum tweeted early Thursday morning.

Foreign Minister Hassoumi Massoudou issued a similar call on news network France 24, asking “all Nigerien democratic patriots to stand up as one to say no to this factious action.”

He demanded the president’s unconditional release and said talks were ongoing. Benin President Patrice Talon, head of the Economic Community of West African States, is expected to lead mediation efforts.

Bazoum is a key ally in the West’s efforts to battle jihadists linked to al-Qaida and the Islamic State group in Africa’s Sahel region. Extremists in Niger have carried out attacks on civilians and military personnel , but the overall security situation is not as dire as in neighbouring nations.

The fight against extremism in the region has become a major arena in which the West and Russia have vied for influence.