Niger Now Under Military Control After Coup

February 19, 2010

Niger (ChattahBox) – After a three hour gun battle yesterday, a group calling themselves the Supreme Council for the Restoration of Democracy has taken control of Niger, ousting several council members and dissolving the government.

The leader, Salou Djibo, is a former member of a UN peacekeeping faction Côte d’Ivoire.

He is now the de facto leader of the country of Niger.

President Mamadou Tandja was unharmed in the coup, but is being held in military barracks outside of the capital.

The coup is thought to be in response to the rewriting of the country’s constitution by Tandja last summer, which gave him more sweeping powers and extended his term in office.

“President Tandja has been trying to extend his mandate in office. And obviously, that may well have been, you know, an act on his behalf that precipitated this act today,” US State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said of the military takeover.

France and the African Union have both openly criticized the coup.

Three soldiers were killed in the gun battle preceding the takeover yesterday afternoon.

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