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    Thousands celebrate military coup in Niger's capital

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    Thousands of people have gathered outside the parliament building in Niger's capital, Niamey, supporting a military coup that overthrew President Mamadou Tandja earlier this week.

    Thousands of people have gathered outside the parliament building in Niger's capital, Niamey, supporting a military coup that overthrew President Mamadou Tandja earlier this week, AL Jazeera has reported.

    Some 10,000 demonstrators took part in Saturday's rally following an appeal by the country's opposition coalition, the Co-ordination of Democratic Forces for the Republic, the TV channel said on its website.

    "We say thank you to the junta for their intervention," an opposition spokesman, Bazoum Mohamed, was quoted by Al Jazeera as telling the rally. "We are for the restoration of democracy and we are committed to joining the army in this mission," he said.

    The military launched an assault on the presidential palace in Niamey, where the government was meeting on Thursday. Tandja was captured and the constitution suspended. Niger's air and land borders were closed.

    A senior army official, Col Salou Djibo, was named head of a military government.

    The international community, including the European Union, the United Nations and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), has condemned the coup. The African Union suspended Niger's membership in the bloc.

    Niger has been in a major political crisis since August 2009, when Tandja amended the constitution to allow him to remain in office indefinitely.

    In October 2009, parliamentary elections were held in Niger despite protests by the country's opposition and the international community. Tandja's ruling party, the National Movement for a Developing Society, won the elections.

    MOSCOW, February 21 (RIA Novosti)

     

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