By John Ensor •
Published: 28 Jul 2023 • 16:29
New leader of Niger, Abdourahamane Tchiani.
Credit: The New York Times/Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0
Following the overthrow of a democratically elected government on Wednesday, the man behind the military coup announced to the country that he was the new leader.
On Friday, July 28, the people of Niger, West Africa, learned that General Abdourahmane Tchiani was the new head of government, writes Aljazeera.
Tchiani, the head of Niger’s presidential guard, has today proclaimed himself the leader of a transitional government, a mere two days after his unit usurped Niger’s democratically elected President Mohamed Bazoum.
Speaking today on state-run television, he said he was the ‘president of the National Council for the Safeguard of the Homeland.’
Citing reasons for the sudden change, the 62-year-old general said the action was needed to avoid what he called ‘the gradual and inevitable demise’ of the country.
He went on to say that while Bazoum had sought to convince people that ‘all is going well… the harsh reality [is] a pile of dead, displaced, humiliation and frustration.’
He added: ‘The security approach today has not brought security to the country despite heavy sacrifices.’
Despite the understanding that this is a temporary measure, he gave no indications for a return to civilian leadership.
Tchiani became leader of the elite presidential guard unit in 2015, and comes from Niger’s western region of Tillaberi, where much of Niger’s military is recruited.
It is understood that the general remains a close ally of former President Mahamadou Issoufou, who led the country until 2021.
A previous coup was foiled in March 2021, when another military unit attempted to seize power at the presidential palace, just days before Bazoum, was due to be sworn in. Reportedly General Tchiani led the successful operation that stopped the ringleaders.
On Wednesday this week, President Bazoum was detained in the presidential palace in Niger’s capital, Niamey. The news provoked condemnation from African leaders and the wider world. The whereabouts of Bazoum is not known nor if he is still in detention
On Wednesday Colonel Amadou Abdramane, spokesperson of the Nigerien army, told the country that security forces had decided to ‘put an end to the regime that you know due to the deteriorating security situation and bad governance.’
The colonel added that Niger’s borders were closed and a nationwide curfew was declared. The military went on to caution against any foreign intervention, reiterating that they will respect Bazoum’s well-being.
President Bazoum later posted a message on social media that the country’s ‘hard-won gains’ in establishing democracy would be protected: ‘All Nigeriens who love democracy and freedom would want this,’ he concluded.
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Originally from Doncaster, Yorkshire, John now lives in Galicia, Northern Spain with his wife Nina.
He is passionate about news, music, cycling and animals.
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