Niger coup leader declares himself country’s new president

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The top of Niger’s presidential guard has declared himself chief of the west African nation after instigating the coup this week that deposed its pro-western chief.

Abdourahmane Tchiani, who has headed the presidential guard since 2015, led the revolt in Niger by barricading President Mohamed Bazoum inside his residence and demanding his resignation.

Tchiani appeared briefly on tv on Friday to say that he had taken over the nation due to deteriorating safety, financial hardship and corruption.

The removing of Bazoum’s elected authorities snuffs out one of many final democracies within the “coup belt” throughout the semi-desert Sahel area, whereas dealing a blow to the west who invested closely in protecting him in energy.

The naming of Tchiani, 62, got here as Yevgeny Prigozhin, head of Russia’s Wagner Group, welcomed the coup in Niger and provided its new leaders the companies of his mercenary group.

Talking on a Wagner-associated Telegram channel, Prigozhin characterised the coup as “a battle by the individuals of Niger in opposition to their colonisers”, and mentioned Wagner would do a greater job of restoring order and destroying terrorists than French or US troops.

Coup supporters set hearth to Niger ruling occasion headquarters in Niamey © Issifou Djibo/EPA/Shutterstock

The removing of Bazoum, who was elected in 2021, spells the political finish of an essential western ally within the struggle in opposition to a spreading risk from teams linked to Isis and al-Qaeda. Massive swaths of neighbouring Mali and Burkina Faso, each additionally managed by army juntas, have been overrun by jihadist insurgents.

Bazoum had doubled down on Niger’s coverage of permitting western army to function contained in the nation. France has a big base in Niamey and the US maintains two drone bases, one close to the desert metropolis of Agadez, and 1,100 troopers within the nation. Germany has skilled troopers.

Nevertheless, observers within the capital Niamey say Tchiani’s transfer was triggered after Bazoum sought to take away him from workplace as he approached retirement age. Bazoum, a former schoolteacher who comes from a minority Arab clan, has a weak political base and has struggled to claim his independence from his political mentor and predecessor, Mahamadou Issoufou.

The coup in Niger has been strongly condemned by regional and worldwide governments. Bazoum, who remains to be believed to be held inside his residence, has refused to signal a resignation letter, based on Nigerian diplomats and an individual in common contact.

“There’s a fairly good probability that the coup is a completed deal,” mentioned Ibrahim Yahaya, senior Sahel analyst on the Disaster group think-tank, including that diplomatic efforts to reverse this week’s occasions have been unlikely to succeed. International army intervention was additionally unlikely, he mentioned.

The coup posed a dilemma to western leaders, Yahaya mentioned. In the event that they pushed too exhausting to isolate the army junta by way of sanctions — as had occurred in Mali and Burkina Faso — they risked pushing the brand new leaders in the direction of Moscow. In Mali, following the 2021 coup, the brand new regime expelled French troops and signed a contract with Wagner operatives.

“Western nations have to actually go straightforward and attempt to discover methods to collaborate with these nations only for the sake of not pushing them to the opposite facet — which is Russia,” Yahaya mentioned.

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