Niger President Mamadou Tandja is believed to be held hostage by soldiers who stormed the presidential palace Feb. 18 in an attempted coup, the New York Times reports. A colonel who associated himself with the coup leaders said on state media that they decided to defer the constitution and dissolve key government institutions, news agencies report.
There has been escalating tension in Niger since last week, when thousands starated protesting Tandja’s move to implement a new constitution that allowed him to extend his presidency and remove term limits. Niger is one of the world’s poorest countries, with high illiteracy and child death rates. No word yet from international donors on the future of their development initiatives in this poor west African nation.