Has anyone else noticed there was just a coup in Niger?

Has anyone else noticed there was just a coup in Niger?

It’s coup season in Africa, apparently, with the third such takeover in just two years. Or that’s what it looks like from the first reports streaming in from Niger. Reuters has the best account:

Niger’s President Mamadou Tandja was detained by mutinous troops on Thursday after a coup in the west African uranium exporter that left at least three soldiers dead, military sources said.

Three Nigerien military sources said the coup was led by a soldier named Major Adamou Harouna.

"The coup leader has succeeded. It is being led by Major Adamou Harouna," one source said. The president and the ministers are being detained not far from the presidential palace, the sources added.

BBC World Service radio this morning reported gunfire being heard from the presidential palace, now they add the particularly eerie detail: "State radio is playing military music – a similar pattern to two coups in the 1990s."

The coup follows months (actually several years) of political rangling between the government and the opposition. In short, the president extended term limits in August last year. He dissolved Parliament and the Constitutional Court when they ruled his actions illegal. IRIN News has a great summary here.

A coup is  a hell of a way to end a political deadlock. We’ll be watching developments here…