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Niger coup: General Tchiani declared new leader

Published July 28, 2023last updated July 29, 2023

General Abdourahmane Tchiani, who often goes by "Omar," appeared on state television as the leader of the soldiers who staged the coup that began on Wednesday.

This video frame grab image shows General Abdourahmane 'Omar' Tchiani speaking on national television
The military general appeared on state television and read a statement as 'president of the National Council for the Safeguarding of the Fatherland'Image: ORTN/Télé Sahel/AFP/Getty Images
Skip next section What you need to know

What you need to know

  • General Abdourahamane Tchiani, the head of the presidential guard in Niger, declared himself the new leader of the country
  • Elected President Mohamed Bazoum has been detained by army putschists since Wedensday morning
  • The United States condemned the military coup in Niger and may cease security cooperation with the country
  • The EU has threatened to cut aid to Niger
Skip next section US' Blinken calls Bazoum again to offer 'unflagging' support
July 29, 2023

US' Blinken calls Bazoum again to offer 'unflagging' support

The US State Department said that Antony Blinken had called Niger's ousted President Mohamed Barzoum for the second time in as many days. 

Blinken offered Bazoum Washington's "unflagging support," department spokesman Matt Miller said in a statement, while warning those detaining him that "hundreds of millions of dollars of assistance" was at risk. 

The US secretary of state made the call while wrapping up a Pacific tour spanning several countries. 

Blinken also "praised Bazoum's role in promoting security not only in Niger but the wider West Africa region," and said Washington would keep working to "ensure the full restoration of constitutional order and democratic rule in Niger."

He also discussed the developing situation in Niger with former Nigerien leader Mahmadou Issoufou, expressing concern over Bazoum's continued detention, and with French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna.

France and the US are both heavily involved in Niger, supporting its fight against jihadist insurgents. Niamey's importance had increased since coups in neighboring Mali and Burkina Faso, struggling to contain the same militants in the tri-border area, led to the exit of Western forces and the entry of mercenaries from the Russian Wagner Group in recent years. 

Skip next section UN Security Council members express 'concern' after coup
July 29, 2023

UN Security Council members express 'concern' after coup

The United Nations Security Council issued a statement on Friday strongly condemning "the efforts to unconstitutionally change the legitimate government" of Niger. 

The 15 members, in a statement agreed by consensus, called for the immediate and unconditional release of President Mohamed Bazoum. 

The council also stressed the need to protect Bazoum, his family and members of his government. 

"The members of the Security Council expressed concern over the negative impact of unconstitutional changes of government in the region, increase in terrorist activities and the dire socio-economic situation," the statement read. 

From Africa, Gabon, Ghana and Mozambique are currently among the 10 rotating non-permanent members of the Council. 

It was a relatively rare Security Council session, by recent standards, where consensus agreement was possible. Russia's permanent membership and effective veto power has paralyzed the body on most matters pertaining to the conflict in Ukraine. 

Skip next section Macron to chair French security council meeting on Niger
July 29, 2023

Macron to chair French security council meeting on Niger

French President Emmanuel Macron will preside over a defense and national security council meeting in Paris on Saturday afternoon to discuss developments in Niger, the presidential palace announced late on Friday. 

Macron is returning from a trip to Oceania and was expected to land back in France overnight from Friday to Saturday. 

He has already condemned the coup "with the greatest firmness" and called for the reinstatement of President Mohamed Bazoum.

France is a particularly close partner to Niger. 

It currently has roughly 1,500 troops in the country, who had been working with the Nigerien military to combat jihadist militants in the border area with Burkina Faso and Mali. 

France drew down its military presence in both of those countries after military coups were followed by a marked shift towards Russia by those countries.

Skip next section White House 'deeply concerned' by Niger events
July 28, 2023

White House 'deeply concerned' by Niger events

The United States was deeply concerned by developments in Niger, White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said.

He said the efforts to seize power by force could have negative ramifications.

"A military takeover may cause the United States to cease security and other cooperation with the government of Niger, jeopardizing existing security and non-security partnerships."

About 1,100 American troops are deployed in Niger to provide training for Nigerien forces and help them conduct special operations. 

Skip next section West African leaders to discuss coup in Sunday meeting
July 28, 2023

West African leaders to discuss coup in Sunday meeting

West African leaders are planning to meet over the weekend to discuss the coup and its repercussions.

Nigerian President Bola Tinubu said the meeting of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS)  will take place in Abuja on Sunday.

"ECOWAS and the international community would do everything to defend democracy and ensure democratic governance continues to take firm root in the region," he said.

Tinubu is the current ECOWAS chairman.

Skip next section UN still delivering aid in Niger
July 28, 2023

UN still delivering aid in Niger

The United Nations said it was continuing to provide humanitarian aid in Niger, but was forced to suspend aid flights after the coup closed borders.

 "We are committed to support and to continue our operational work on the ground given the situation," Nicole Kouassi, the UN's humanitarian coordinator in Niger said. 

She said 4.3 million people needed humanitarian aid before this week's military action and 3.3 million faced "acute food insecurity," the majority of them women and children.

"The humanitarian response continues on the ground and has never stopped," World Food Programme country director Jean-Noel Gentile said during the same media briefing as Kouassi.

"We are able to access vulnerable areas and vulnerable populations in Niger," he added.

Kouassi said all UN staff in the country were safe. The UN is believed to have some 1,600 staff in Niger, including about 352 who are international.

Skip next section HRW warns of risk to Niger human rights
July 28, 2023

HRW warns of risk to Niger human rights

The coup in Niger is putting the rights of its people at risk, according to Human Rights Watch.

The rights group's warning comes despite assurances by the new military rulers "willingness" to respect rights.

The New York-based human rights organization called on the coup leaders to ensure that deposed President Mohamed Bazoum was treated lawfully and with respect, alongside all others in custody since the Wednesday takeover.

Coup leaders should also "ensure a swift transition to democratic civilian rule," the group added.

Ilaria Allegrozzi, senior Sahel researcher at Human Rights Watch, said "Niger's new military leadership should ensure that everyone's human rights are respected."

"The military authorities should promptly provide a specific timeline for the return to democratic civilian rule and uphold the right of all Nigeriens to elect their leaders," added Allegrozzi.

Skip next section Kenyan President Ruto says coup a 'serious setback' for Africa
July 28, 2023

Kenyan President Ruto says coup a 'serious setback' for Africa

Kenyan President William Ruto condemened the coup in Niger, calling the coup a "serious setback" for Africa.

"On Wednesday, Africa suffered a serious setback in its democratic gains as the aspirations of the people of the people of Niger for constitutional democracy were subverted by an unconstitutional change of government that deposed Mohamed Bazoum, a democratically elected president," Ruto said in a video message.

He joined other world leaders in calling for the restoration of democratic governance in Niger.

Niger's coup is the seventh in West and Central Africa since 2020.

Skip next section ‘Bigger footprint’ in Niger not the answer, SDP Christoph Schmid tells DW
July 28, 2023

‘Bigger footprint’ in Niger not the answer, SDP Christoph Schmid tells DW

Sending more German peacekeeping soldiers in Niger back in March could not have prevented this week's coup in the West African country, Social Democratic Party (SDP) lawmaker Christoph Schmid told DW.

"I do not think that a bigger footprint could have prevented this from happening," Schmid said.

Late last year, the European Union decided on the three-year military mission, called the EU Military Partnership Mission in Niger, for the country.

Germany's military, the Bundeswehr, is also involved in the mission, which is intended to combat terrorism in the Sahel.

Schmid said after the coup it was unclear who is in charge of the country and what their intentions are. 

"For us, it is quite concerning because we have just recently installed the European military partner mission and therefore we have to have a partner."

Niger coup leaves EU partners 'very concerned'

He emphasized how crucial it is for Europe to have a government partner to function effectively in the country..

"We have to keep in mind that the Sahel region is very important for Europe, but I do not think that a bigger footprint with much more soldiers can prevent things from happening because the footprint cannot be big enough for keeping stability within with outside soldiers," he said.

"We have to train the local armed forces for their mission to keep their country, to prevent terrorists in their country from gaining ground" Schmid added.

Skip next section France rejects 'putschists'
July 28, 2023

France rejects 'putschists'

France said it "does not recognize" General Abdourahamane Tchiani and his soldiers as legitimate rulers of the country.

It said President Mohamed Bazoum — who was elected in 2021 in Niger’s first peaceful, democratic transfer of power since its independence from France in 1960 — is the "only president of the Republic of Niger."

France, "reaffirmed in the strongest terms the clear demands of the international community calling for the immediate restoration of constitutional order and democratically-elected civilian government in Niger."

Bazoum, who was seized by members of his own presidential guard at the presidential palace, is said to be in good health and has held telephone calls with heads of state, including Macron.

Bazoum is a key ally in the West’s efforts to battle jihadists linked to al-Qaida and the Islamic State group in Africa’s Sahel region.

Soldiers announce coup in Niger

Skip next section EU threatens to cut aid to Niger
July 28, 2023

EU threatens to cut aid to Niger

The European Union threatened to cut off aid to Niger in the wake of the coup.

"The EU condemns in the strongest terms the coup in Niger. The events of recent days constitute a serious attack on stability and democracy in Niger," a statement read.

"Any breakdown in the constitutional order will have consequences for cooperation between the EU and Niger, including the immediate suspension of all budgetary support," it added.

Niger President Mohamed Bazoum's security ought to be "guaranteed unconditionally," the EU said.

Bazoum was declared as having been removed from power, hours after being held at the presidential palace two days ago.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell had announced $73 million (€66 million) in aid during his visit to capital Niamey earlier this July.

Skip next section Tchiani calls for cooperation with military juntas in neighboring Mali, Burkina Faso
July 28, 2023

Tchiani calls for cooperation with military juntas in neighboring Mali, Burkina Faso

Speaking on state TV, Tchiani criticized the Nigerien government's lack of cooperation with the military juntas in Mali and Burkina Faso in combating Islamist insurgency in the Sahel region.

Both of those countries recently severed military ties with France and the West and now depend on Russia — chiefly through the Wagner mercenary group — for state security.

In the Nigerien capital Niamey, some pro-coup demonstrators could be seen waving Russian flags and denouncing French influence.

Skip next section Tchiani declared new leader
July 28, 2023

Tchiani declared new leader

General Abdourahamane Tchiani has appeared on state TV as the president of the transitional council that seized power in a coup on Wednesday.

Tchiani played a leading role in the coup.

"Our defense and security forces ... have decided to put an end to the regime that you know," he said.

He also warned foreign leaders not to attempt a military intervention.

"I ask the technical and financial partners who are friends of Niger to understand the specific situation of our country in order to provide it with all the support necessary to enable it to meet the challenges," he said

zc/fb (Reuters, AFP, dpa)