Niger’s coup leaders on Friday designated an army general as the new leader of the nation, announcement came on the third day following the detention of elected President Mohamed Bazoum.
Hours before the announcement of the new leader by the putschists, France, the former colonial power, expressed that it did not regard the coup as “final.”
France further emphasized that there was still an opportunity for the coup plotters to heed international calls and allow democratically-elected President Bazoum to remain in office.
General Abdourahamane Tchiani, who has been leading the Presidential Guard since 2011, appeared on national TV and proclaimed himself as the “president of the National Council for the Safeguard of the Homeland” in his statement.
The general justified the coup as a response to the “deterioration of the security situation” caused by militant violence.
Macron labeled the events in Niamey as a coup that could have broader implications for the Sahel region. Western powers are now working urgently to safeguard a crucial ally in the insurgency-affected area.
General Tchiani asserted that despite Bazoum’s efforts to portray a positive image, the harsh reality was one of numerous casualties, displacement, humiliation, and frustration among the people.
“The security approach today has not brought security to the country despite heavy sacrifices,” he said.
Since Wednesday morning, Bazoum and his family have been held within their residence at the presidential palace, situated within the Guard’s military camp.
Bazoum is reported to be in good health, and he has had the opportunity to communicate via telephone with other heads of state, including Macron.
Armed forces chief General Abdou Sidikou Issa expressed his support for the coup leaders, stating that it was a measure taken to prevent a potentially deadly confrontation.
Colonna mentioned that the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is planning to convene a summit, likely on Sunday, during which they might consider imposing potential sanctions.
ECOWAS has insisted on the “immediate release” of Bazoum, affirming that he continues to be the legitimate and lawful President of Niger.
Mali and Burkina Faso have forced out French troops, and in Mali the ruling military has woven a close alliance with Russia.
Yevgeny Prigozhin, the head of Wagner, seemed to imply on Thursday night in a message shared by a Russian entity associated with the mercenary group, that the events in Niger were merely a reflection of the people of Niger’s resistance against colonizers attempting to impose their way of life.
On Thursday, the coup plotters appealed to the population to remain calm, following incidents where young men vandalized Bazoum’s PNDS party headquarters, setting fire to vehicles.
Among the crowd, some individuals waved Russian flags and chanted anti-French and pro-Moscow slogans.
“We want the same thing as in Mali and Burkina Faso,” shouted 19-year-old student Alassane Alhousseini.
“We want to take our destiny in our own hands.”
Despite the violence and the army’s prohibition on demonstrations, a coalition of parties opposed to Bazoum has called for a demonstration on Friday to express support for the “motivations” of the coup leaders while disapproving of any change achieved through force.