Army general, Tchiani, named as new leader of Niger after military coup

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General Abdourahamane Tchiani is the new leader of Niger following a military takeover, state television reported Friday.

The chief of the Presidential Guard has been named “president of the National Council for the Safeguard of the Homeland,” a statement said, with elected President Mohamed Bazoum detained by army putschists since Wednesday morning.

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Tchiani, appeared on state television on Friday to defend this week’s coup, repeating that soldiers had acted to protect national security.

Security has remained a problem since Bazoum was elected in 2021 as extremists who took root in neighboring Mali in 2012 gained ground, killing thousands and displacing over six million across West Africa’s Sahel region.

Niger is a key ally of Western countries in tackling extremist insurgencies in West Africa and a number of foreign troops are based there, including from France and the United States.

Tchiani reiterated that soldiers had seized power due to the worsening security. He also criticized the lack of “genuine collaboration” with military governments in Mali and Burkina Faso in the fight against insurgencies.

“The harsh reality of insecurity in Niger, experienced by our defense forces and hardworking populations, with its toll of deaths, displacement, humiliation, and frustration, reminds us on a daily basis of this stark reality,” Tchiani said.

“What sense lies in the security approach against terrorism that excludes any genuine collaboration with Burkina Faso and Mali, even though we share the Liptako-Gourma zone, where most of the terrorist group activities we are fighting against are concentrated,” he added.

French President Emmanuel Macron said he was prepared to back sanctions against the perpetrators of the “dangerous” coup, after his foreign minister said the power grab did not appear to be definitive.

Former colonial power France has made Niger the cornerstone of its more than decade-long counter-insurgency operations against extremist militants in the Sahel region.

“This coup d’etat is completely illegitimate,” Macron told a news conference in Papua New Guinea.

Those who took part in the coup said in a broadcast on Friday that any foreign military intervention to reinstate him would result in “massacre... and chaos.”

Tchiani said the National Council for the Safeguarding of the Homeland, over which he is now presiding, will respect all commitments made to the international community.

“I also ask the technical and financial partners and friends of Niger to understand the specific situation of our country and provide all necessary support to help it overcome the challenges it faces,” he added.

The West African regional bloc ECOWAS called for Bazoum’s immediate release and a return to constitutional order.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov also said that constitutional order should be restored.

US Vice President Kamala Harris said cooperation with Niger’s government was contingent on its “continued commitment to democratic standards.”

Read more:

Audio message by Wagner chief says Niger coup is part of fight against ‘colonizers’

World Bank monitoring Niger’s political situation, denounces destabilization attempts

France calls for restoration of Niger democratic institutions

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