Niamey, Warta9.com – A powerful general who staged the Niger coup declared himself the new leader of the West African country on Friday (28/7/2023). He is General Abdourahamane Tchiani who is head of the Presidential Guard since 2011.
Tchuani appeared on Niger state television and announced himself as President of the National Council for the Defense of the Homeland.
The general, in his 50s who previously distanced himself from public life, described the Niger coup as a response to the degradation of the security situation linked to jihadist bloodshed.
He questioned the meaning and scope of a security approach to fighting terrorism that excludes real collaboration with Burkina Faso and Mali.
Burkina Faso and Mali are neighboring countries that face similar threats. Troops led by General Abdourahamane Tchiani are still holding Niger’s democratically elected President Mohamed Bazoum.
The Niger coup has sparked widespread concern. Kenyan President William Ruto called the military takeover a serious setback for Africa.
“The aspirations of the Niger people for constitutional democracy are subverted by an unconstitutional change of government,” he said in a video message. Nigerian President Bola Tinubu said West African leaders would meet on Sunday (30/7/2023) in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, to discuss the coup.
“The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the international community will do everything to defend democracy and ensure democratic governance continues to be firmly rooted in the region,” said Tinubu, who is also chair of the ECOWAS regional bloc.
The European Union has threatened to cut aid to Niger after what it says is a serious attack on stability and democracy.
The United States also warned that it may end security assistance and other cooperation, although the roughly 1,000 troops stationed in the country will remain there for now.
Meanwhile, two deputy directors of Bazoum’s cabinet, Daouda Takoubakoye and Oumar Moussa, called Tchiani’s statement untrue. They accuse the general and other Presidential Guards of carrying out the coup for personal gain.
Sources close to Bazoum said the ousted leader had considered replacing Tchiani after their relations soured, a decision that should have been taken at a cabinet meeting on July 24.
Bazoum and his family have been confined since Wednesday (27/7/2023) morning in their residence at the presidential palace located inside the 700-strong Presidential Guard military camp. He is said to be in good health and has been able to speak by phone with other heads of state. (**)