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‘Attempted Coup’: Soldiers arrested days to Niger Presidential election

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A security source disclosed that some soldiers have been arrested after heavy gunfire broke out in the early hours of Wednesday in Niger capital, Niamey.

He, however, added that the ‘situation is under control.’

Residents reported hearing overnight bursts of gunfire near the presidency, just two days before Mohamed Bazoum is due to be inaugurated as President of the country.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a source said: “There were some arrests among a few members of the army who are behind this attempted coup.

“The Presidential Guard retaliated, preventing this group of soldiers from approaching the presidential palace.”

A resident of Niamey’s Plateau district, which includes the president’s official residence and offices said:

“It was around 3.00 am, we heard shots from heavy and light weapons and it lasted 15 minutes before stopping, followed by shots from light weapons.”

“The gunfire lasted about 20 minutes,” another resident said.

A third resident spoke of “intense shooting, with heavy and light weapons”.

Media reports reported that calm had returned by around 4.00 am.

In short video clips posted on social networks, only several seconds in length, sporadic bursts of gunfire could be heard in the pitch dark.

It was not yet possible to independently verify the location and timing of the videos.

The alleged coup comes ahead of Bazoum’s scheduled inauguration on Friday — the first elected transition in Niger’s history since independence from France in 1960.

Bazoum is a former interior minister and right-hand man of outgoing president Mahamadou Issoufou, who is voluntarily stepping down after two five-year terms.

His victory in the second round of the election on February 2 was confirmed by the constitutional court this month.

The results were contested by Bazoum’s rival, former president Mahamane Ousmane, who claimed he was the real winner.

Ousmane had called for “peaceful marches” across the country, but a planned opposition protest Wednesday in Niamey was banned a day earlier by authorities.

Niger is the poorest country in the world, according to the benchmark of the UN’s 189-nation Human Development Index.

It has suffered four coups in its history, most recently a February 2010 putsch which toppled then president Mamadou Tandja.

The Sahel country has also recently been struck by repeated jihadist attacks as Islamist movements have spilled over from neighbouring Mali and Nigeria.


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Woman expecting septuplets gives birth to 9 babies

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A Malian woman gave birth to nonuplets in Morocco on Tuesday and all nine babies are “doing well”, her government said, although Moroccan authorities had yet to confirm what would be an extremely rare case. 

Mali’s government flew 25-year-old Halima Cisse, a woman from the north of the poor West African state, to Morocco for better care on March 30. 

She was initially believed to have been carrying septuplets.

Cases of women successfully carrying septuplets to term are rare — and nonuplets even rarer.

Moroccan health ministry spokesman Rachid Koudhari said he had no knowledge of such a multiple birth having taken place in one of the country’s hospitals.

But Mali’s health ministry said in a statement that Cisse had given birth to five girls and four boys by Caesarean section.

“The mother and babies are doing well so far,” Mali’s Health Minister Fanta Siby told AFP, adding that she had been kept informed by the Malian doctor who accompanied Cisse to Morocco.

Doctors had been concerned about Cisse’s health, according to local press reports, as well as her babies’ chances of survival.

Mali’s health ministry said in a statement that ultrasound examinations conducted in both Mali and Morocco had suggested that Cisse was carrying seven babies.

Siby offered her congratulations to “the medical teams of Mali and Morocco, whose professionalism is at the origin of the happy outcome of this pregnancy”.

AFP


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Buhari pledges better collaboration with Zambia

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Nigeria and Zambia will deepen collaboration between the two countries, President Muhammadu Buhari has assured. 

The President spoke Thursday at State House, Abuja, while receiving a Special Envoy of His Excellency, Edgar Chagwa Lungu. 

He said the two countries would explore further areas of collaboration for the good of their peoples, and benefit of the African continent. 

The Special Envoy, Hon Joseph Malanji, who is Zambia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, thanked Nigeria for her “big brother role in ECOWAS and the African continent,” stressing that “equity is when strong ones strengthen the weak ones.”

 The Zambian President called for stronger bilateral relations and greater impetus for the Joint Commission of Cooperation between the two countries. 


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Breaking: Late Deby ’s son takes over, to head Transitional Military Council in Chad

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A transitional military council is established in Chad, headed by Lt.-Gen. Mahamat Idriss Deby, the son of late president Idriss Deby, the Al Wihda newspaper reported on Tuesday.

The military plans to publish a “transitional charter” soon. Chad declared a two-week national mourning period after the president’s death and imposed a curfew from 18:00 p.m. local time until 05:00 a.m.

In addition, the military decided to close land and air borders “until further notice.”

The AFP reported earlier in the day that Deby, who commanded an army unit during hostilities against the rebels in Chad’s north, died.

A source confirmed to Sputnik that the president was critically injured during the clashes and died later in a hospital.

Mahamat previously served as the second in command of the Armed Forces for the Chadian Intervention in Northern Mali (FATIM).

On Feb. 22, he led his army against rebels in the Adar al-Ifoghas mountains in Northern Mali leading to the Battle of al-Ifoghas.

They eliminated a rebel base said to be of “significant importance”, inflicting heavy losses upon the rebels but also losing twenty-six men in the process, including Abdel Aziz Hassane Adam, a commander of special forces.

Mahamat took full command of the FATIM and has since been leading operations against rebels in the North.


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