A report on the coup d’etat in Niger, where the SMA have several missions
Some backgorund information: The Niger population is just over 15 million with an area of 1.27 million sq kilometres. Life expectancy is just over 50 years of age. There are two dioceses in the country – Niamey and Maradi – with a combined Catholic population of about 20,000. The Catholic Church is respected there as they are to the fore in the provision of healthcare and education to the poor. The SMA has French, Italian and Argentinian priests working in the Archdiocese of Niamey, under the leadership of Archbishop Michel Cartateguy SMA
From contact with our missionaries we were able to compile the following brief report:
Without doubt you are concerned about our situation here. By listening to your radio or TV you know as much as we do, our only source of informatin is RFI (French International Radio).
Only at 10pm (on Thursday) did we hear no the news of the overthrow of President Tandja. It is as if nothing had happened. Earlier that day, we heard gunfire, small arms and heavy weapons, between 1pm and 3:35 pm and then nothing.
The area of the Presidential palace had to be closed, but in the city itself not a single policeman, even at the usual places, not a single soldier.
I went to Yantala from 5 to 6 pm, then to the Cathedral to celebrate at 7pm, came back home at 8pm, no curfew and no sign that anything had happened except some military music on the local radio.
A little less traffic but that’s all. Absolutely no news on satellite radio and local TV up to 22 H.
Many think “what a happy coup”, although there are some victims to mourn.
We all waited with impatience, so the situation was tense, since the dissolution of the Assembly and the Constitutional Court,
the false referendum and mock legislative and municipal elections.And all the negotiations that had been going on, nothing!
During all of this the people were so patient.
Now, the only drawback will be the curfew from 6 pm, since we have begun Lent and the way of the Cross, which our African Christians are very fond of, is at 7 pm.
Where is the deposed President? As far as we know he’s detained in an Army barracks along with some of his ministers.
This morning, the radio gave the name of the colonel who took power: a Colonel Djibo.
The schools are open and the children attending. Archbishop Michel Cartatéguy SMA (Archbishop of Niamey) was in Fada N’Gurma (Burkina Faso) for the Bishops Conference. He is due to return on Saturday … if the border is open.
Wishing you a Joyful Lent.
Please pray for the Nigerien people and our missionaries there.