1. Niger 'coup' thwarted days before inauguration

    Video content

    Video caption: President-elect Mohamed Bazoum is due to be sworn in on Friday.

    President-elect Mohamed Bazoum is due to be sworn in on Friday.

  2. US embassy in Niger's capital shut after shooting

    The US embassy in Niger's capital, Niamey, has shut, amidst reports of a failed attempt by some soldiers to stage a coup.

    "US embassy Niamey will be closed on Wednesday, 31 March 2021, due to gunshots heard near our neighbourhood. Consular services are suspended until further notice. All personnel are encouraged to stay home, until further notice," read a statement on the embassy's website.

    Heavy gunfire was heard early this morning around the presidential palace and in other neighbourhoods of Niamey.

    Reports say the situation is now under control, less than 48 hours ahead of the inauguration of President-elect Mohamed Bazoum.

    If he takes office it will be the first ever democratic transfer of power in Niger.

    Mohamed Bazoum gestures at his party headquarter after the announcement of his election in Niamey, on February 23, 2021.
    Image caption: Mohamed Bazoum won 55.66% of votes cast in the election

    Mr Bazoum is a former interior minister who defeated a former president, Mahamane Ousmane, in elections last month.

    President Mahamadou Issoufou stepping down after two five-year terms.

  3. Niger launches Covid vaccine roll out

    Niger has started its vaccination campaign against Covid-19 with China's Sinopharm vaccine.

    Health workers, vulnerable people over 60, members of the defence and security forces, refugees and migrants, are among groups being prioritised.

    Upon receiving his first dose of vaccine, Prime Minister Brigi Rafini called on all citizens to be vaccinated "for the sake of all the population".

    Health Minister Ahmed Boto said a second dose would be necessary "four weeks later" and assured that the side effects of the vaccine are largely minor.

    Last year the authorities imposed curfews, closed places of worship and schools, and isolated the capital, Niamey, from the rest of the country to curb the spread of the virus.

    Some of the measures have been progressively lifted but land borders remain closed.

    Niger has reported just under 5,000 cases of Covid-19 and 185 deaths.

  4. Classrooms burnt and 11 killed in Niger attacks

    Mary Harper

    Africa editor, BBC World Service

    Officials in Niger say 11 people have been killed in three separate jihadist attacks in the west of the country.

    The militants arrived in villages on motorbikes on Wednesday.

    They stole livestock, set classrooms on fire and looted a health centre.

    This is the second time the three villages have been attacked this year.

    There has been a significant increase in Islamist attacks in Niger.

    On Sunday, nearly 140 people were killed by suspected jihadists in the north of the country.

  5. Niger court upholds Bazoum's win

    Will Ross

    Africa editor, BBC World Service

    Mohamed Bazoum
    Image caption: When Mr Bazoum takes office next month it will be the first ever democratic transfer of power in Niger

    The runner-up in Niger’s recent election has denounced a court ruling that upheld Mohamed Bazoum as the winner.

    Mahamane Ousmane - who was president in the 1990s before being overthrown in a coup - still maintains he won.

    He's called on people throughout the country to take part in a peaceful protest march, without giving a date.

    A spokesman for the governing party urged people to ignore the call.

    With President Mahamadou Issoufou stepping down after two terms, the swearing in of Mr Bazoum next month will be the first ever democratic transfer of power in Niger.

  6. 137 villagers killed in Niger attacks

    Video content

    Video caption: Armed men on motorbikes attacked three villages close to the Mali border on Sunday

    Armed men on motorbikes attacked three villages close to the Mali border on Sunday

  7. Niger village attacks death toll rises to 137

    BBC World Service

    A soldier stands guard at sunset as France's President and Niger's President Mahamadou Issoufou (unseen) take part in a military ceremony at the Martyr Quarter on December 22, 2019,
    Image caption: Attacks by Islamist militants in Niger have been rising

    The government in Niger says the number of people now known to have been killed in attacks on Sunday by suspected Islamist militants is 137.

    Three villages were targeted close to the border with Mali.

    Niger is facing an unprecedented onslaught of attacks by Islamist militants who carry out hit-and-run raids on isolated villages using motorbikes and pick-up trucks.

    It has emerged that last Sunday's attack on three villages close to where the borders of Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso meet was particularly serious - with more than 130 civilians killed.

    A map of Niger

    There have been similar attacks on the other side of the frontier, where 33 Malian soldiers were killed a week earlier.

    Niger is part of a France-backed alliance of countries in the Sahel region known as the G5.

    A contingent of 1,200 soldiers from the Chadian army, considered the region’s toughest, has been deployed to help counter the threat.

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  8. Suspected militants kill at least 40 in Niger

    BBC Monitoring

    The world through its media

    A map of Niger

    At least 40 people died in suspected militant attacks in Niger's western Tahoua region on Sunday, hours after the constitutional court validated the election of Mohamed Bazoum as president.

    Outgoing President Mahamadou Issoufou termed the incident "barbaric" as he sent condolences to the affected communities in Tillia.

    "Everything is being done to ensure that these crimes do not go unpunished," he said in a post on his official Twitter account.

    The attackers are said to have targeted the villages of Intazayene, Bakorate, the well at Wirstane and camps near Akifakif, all located near the Malian border, according to news website Actu Niger.

    It adds that militants linked to the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS) operate in the area.

    Actu Niger reports that clashes broke out between Niger soldiers and the attackers in one of the targeted villages after military reinforcements were dispatched to the area.

    Incoming President Mohamed Bazoum is under pressure to address rising civilian killings in the volatile western Tahoua and Tillaberi regions, and the south-eastern Diffa Region in attacks perpetrated by militants from the Islamic State, al-Qaeda's Sahel group and Nigeria's Boko Haram group.

    The incident in Tahoua comes barely a week after nearly 60 civilians were killed in Tillaberi's Banibangou locality near the border with Mali.

    In the run up to the second round of the presidential election on 21 February, more than 100 civilians were killed in an unclaimed attack in two villages in Tillaberi. On election day, seven polling agents were killed in an IED attack in the same region.

  9. Niger top court confirms Bazoum as new president

    Niger's opposition supporters chant slogans in the streets of Niamey
    Image caption: Opposition supporters last month protested against Mr Bazoum's election win

    Niger's constitutional court has confirmed Mohamed Bazoum of the ruling PNDS party as winner of a presidential run-off held last month.

    Mr Bazoum won with 55.66% of the votes while his challenger Mahamane Ousmane of the RDR-Tchanji party received 45.34% of the votes, according to the final results published on Sunday.

    The turnout was 62.81%.

    The opposition coalition, Cap 2021, and its allies had contested the results, alleging fraud. It claimed victory with 50.3% of the vote.

    On Saturday the authorities banned a planned march by the opposition in the capital, Niamey, because it was seen as a "risk to public order" and "for reasons of health emergency" related to the Covid-19 pandemic.

    This is Niger's first transition from one democratically elected leader to another, with President Mahamadou Issoufou stepping down after two five-year terms.

    The new president is a former interior minister and close ally of Mr Issoufou.

    Niger, which is the world's poorest country, is struggling to contain an Islamist insurgency.

  10. Niger in three days of mourning for attack victims

    BBC World Service

    A soldier stands guard in the Tillaberi region
    Image caption: A soldier stands guard in the Tillaberi region, where the attacks happened

    Niger is starting three days of national mourning after 58 people were killed by gunmen in two separate attacks near the border with Mali.

    Residents of the Western Tillaberi region said suspected militants targeted vehicles carrying traders returning from local markets on Monday.

    It's not clear who carried out the killings, but the region has suffered frequent attacks by armed groups linked to the Islamic State group and al Qaeda.

    In January, more than 100 villagers were killed in the region in one of Niger's worst ever attacks.

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  11. Issoufou's legacy hinges on democratic elections

    Lalla Sy

    BBC News

    President Mahamadou Issoufou

    One achievement that Niger's President Mahamadou Issoufou is most proud of is leaving office after his term ended.

    "I did my two terms. I respect the constitution. I respect the promise I made to the people of Niger who have given me the honour of leading them," the former president told when I interviewed him recently.

    For a country that has had its fair share of coups, leaving office after a constitutional term has ended is a big deal for Niger and also Africa.

    It's for this reason that the Ibrahim Prize awarded Mr Issoufou $5m (£3m) - becoming just the seventh recipient since its launch in 2007.

    Niger's economy has improved in the last decade - with the number of people living in poverty falling from 48% to 40%, but critics say he could have done more to improve the lives of his people.

    The capital, Niamey, has been spruced up during his term with new roads and hotels becoming a symbol of foreign investment.

    Compared to its neighbours Mali and Burkina Faso, Niger has also been less affected, in terms of number of attacks, by Islamist militants.

    Mr Issoufou's hand-picked successor Mohamed Bazoum faces a lot of challenges, including fixing the economy, and reaching out to opposition supporters who claim he did not fairly win last month's election.

    But observers will be keen to see if Mr Bazoum will continue strengthening the country's fragile democracy.

  12. Niger's Issoufou wins African leadership prize

    President Mahamadou Issoufou

    Niger's President Mahamadou Issoufou has been announced the 2020 winner of the $5m (£3.6m) Ibrahim prize for African leadership.

    Mr Issoufou has served two five-year terms as president from 2011 to 2020. He is set to be succeeded by former interior minister, Mohamed Bazoum, who won the presidential election last month.

    The prize committee praised the Nigerien president's leadership after inheriting one of the world’s poorest economies.

    It said he "fostered economic growth, shown unwavering commitment to regional stability and to the constitution, and championed African democracy."

    Mr Issoufou is the sixth recipient of the Ibrahim Prize.

    He has tweeted that the prize honours all Nigerien people.

    "I consider this award an encouragement to continue to think and act in such a way that promotes democratic values and good governance, not only in Niger, but in Africa and around the world," he added.

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    Previous winners of the prize include Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia (2017), President Hifikepunye Pohamba of Namibia (2014), President Pedro Pires of Cabo Verde (2011), President Festus Mogae of Botswana (2008) and President Joaquim Chissano of Mozambique (2007).

  13. Nigerian violence 'forcing people to flee to Niger'

    People from the Nigerian town of Malam Fatori an its area, close to the borders with Niger and Chad, pass by a car with Chadian Gendarmes (in uniform) as they flee Islamist Boko Haram attacks
    Image caption: Violence in Nigeria has caused the exodus across the border

    Violence in north-western Nigeria is causing people to flee into neighbouring Niger, where violence is also on the rise, the United Nations has warned.

    Fear of armed groups and communal clashes in Nigeria had sent nearly 7,660 Nigerians fleeing into Niger's southern Maradi region since the start of the year, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) said

    "Most of the refugees are women and children, displaced following recent attacks in Nigeria’s Sokoto state," UNHCR spokesperson Boris Cheshirkov said.

    The Maradi region, in southern Niger, now hosts nearly 100,000 displaced people, including 77,000 Nigerian refugees, who have fled relentless attacks in Katsina, Sokoto and Zamfara states.

    Armed groups in the Sahel and Lake Chad regions have been fuelling one of the world’s "fastest-growing displacement and protection crises", with millions forced from their homes, the UNHCR says.

  14. Niger opposition leader charged with plot to overthrow government

    Niger's anti-riot police officers arrive in a street with smoke and projectiles against opposition protesters
    Image caption: Protests followed after the declaration of the ruling party candidate as the winner

    Leading Nigerien opposition figure Hama Amadou, who is being held by the authorities, faces multiple charges including being involved in an organisation seeking to overthrow a democratic regime.

    The authorities have also brought charges of "regionalist propaganda" and "speech inclined to set people against one another" against the opposition leader.

    At least two people died last week during protests following the presidential election in which ruling party candidate Mohamed Bazoum was declared winner with 55.75%.

    Opposition candidate Mahamane Ousmane contested the results, alleging fraud.

    Mr Amadou - who had once been considered the main opposition contender to run against Mr Bazoum but was banned from running - supported Mr Ousmane in the race.

    Last week, Mr Ousmane's supporters clashed with riot police in street confrontation following the announcement.

    The protesters set houses on fire, including that of Radio France Internationale (RFI) correspondent Moussa Kaka.

  15. Niger reporter's house burnt amid election protests

    Niger's opposition demonstrators throw stones during clashes with police as opposition supporters protest after the announcement of the results of the country's presidential run-off in Niamey, on February 24, 2021. -
    Image caption: Opposition demonstrators throw stones during clashes with police on Wednesday

    The house of RFI’s correspondent in Niger was attacked and burnt amid tensions about the results of a presidential run-off held on Sunday, the French broadcaster said.

    Moussa Kaka was targeted on Thursday because he was a journalist, the French radio station said, condemning the attack.

    Former Interior Minister Mohamed Bazoum, the ruling party’s candidate, was declared the winner, which opposition candidate Mahamane Ousmane is contesting, alleging fraud.

    “This is a very serious attack on the freedom of the press,” the RFI statement said.

    “A long-time RFI correspondent in Niger, Moussa Kaka has already been subjected to numerous threats, including cyber-harassment by unknown individuals at the end of last year, and has already filed a complaint.”

    At least two people have died during protests this week.

    Meanwhile, leading opposition figure Hama Amadou, accused by the government of stoking unrest, has handed himself into police, one of his aides said, the AFP news agency reports.

    Mr Amadou had once been considered the main opposition contender to run against Mr Bazoum, but was banned from running because of a conviction for baby trafficking, which he says was politically motivated.

    He went on to support Mr Ousmane in the race.

    Mr Bazoum, 61, is set to succeed President Mahamdou Issoufou, who is stepping down after two five-year terms.