Reports indicate that President Tandja is facing a coup Photo: BBC
Reports of gunfire from the area of the Presidential Palace, in the Niger capital of Niamey came today, leading to rumors of a potential coup attempt.
Journalists in the capital reported hearing sustained gunfire for about a half an hour, yet it remains unclear just what took place.
Soldiers with rifles were on the streets near the palace and injured people were being rushed to the hospital. Reuters news agency quoted an unnamed intelligence officer saying guards were trying to put down a coup attempt.
The tensions between the ruling party and opposition leaders has increased dramatically since President Mamadou Tandja changed the constitution last year to allow him to run and serve for a third term.
In attempts to resolve the crisis between the two factions, government and opposition leaders have been holding on-off talks, mediated by the regional body Ecowas. President Tandja was first elected in 1999, and re-elected in 2004.
Niger has had a long history of military rule since it gained independence from France in 1960. Since 1999, Niger has been a Presidential Republic and many of its citizens fear that Tandja may have aims of becoming dictator.
The country has also had its shares of terrorist activity, as the Tandja regime has allowed oil production to pollute and ruin the livelihood of many Nigerian Delta farmers who have not received any government help or compensation. These farmers have since joined many branches of Al Qaeda and other terror groups in attacking and setting fire to the oil rigs in the delta.
One may only hope that whatever the result, the Nigerian people will be able to maintain a stable government. For these people to fall back into the woes of a military regime, surely the appeal of terror groups will increase exponentially. Many already blame the US and other Western nations for the problems that plague the people due to the oil facilities in the delta. Surely the loss of a friendly government will lead to a worsening of trade and relations.