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Head of Presidential Guard Claims Energy in Niger Coup

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The commander of Niger’s presidential guard claimed the management of the West African nation with a televised deal with on Friday, two days after his navy unit detained the democratically elected president and threw the way forward for a key Western ally within the area into uncertainty.

“We’ve determined to intervene and seize our tasks,” Gen. Abdourahmane Tchiani, who goes by the primary identify, Omar, mentioned on state tv. “We will’t proceed with the identical approaches.”

Niger, a poor nation wealthy in uranium, lies within the Sahel, the arid area south of the Sahara that has confronted rising insecurity amid the worsening results of local weather change, political instability and armed insurgencies. The USA has 1,100 troops and two drone bases in Niger. France, the previous colonial energy, greater than 1,500 troops.

The navy takeover in Niger is the sixth in West Africa in lower than three years, following Burkina Faso, Guinea and Mali, and threatening to upend regional efforts to battle Islamist insurgencies by teams affiliated with Al Qaeda and the Islamic State.

The coup, Niger’s fifth since gaining independence from France in 1960, might deal a deadly blow to the nation’s nascent democracy: It had its first peaceable, democratic transition of energy just a few years in the past when President Mohamed Bazoum took workplace from one other elected president.

An aide to Mr. Bazoum and analysts mentioned in interviews within the final two days that the president had been planning to take away Common Tchiani because the presidential guard’s chief.

Common Tchiani, nevertheless, mentioned his troopers had unseated Mr. Bazoum due to poor administration of the financial system and the battle in opposition to militants.

Whereas saying he appreciated the “assist of our exterior companions” — an obvious reference to the US and European international locations — he additionally faulted Niger’s management for not partnering with the navy juntas in neighboring Burkina Faso and Mali, which have moved near Russia in recent times.

“The present safety strategy hasn’t enabled us to safe our nation,” he mentioned.

A navy officer later introduced on Friday that Niger’s Structure had been suspended and {that a} new transitional physique was taking cost of government and legislative powers. The officer mentioned Common Tchiani can be the president of the brand new physique.

The overall himself briefly appeared on nationwide tv, standing in a gaggle of navy officers within the new transitional council, with cheerful music within the background.

A supply near Mr. Bazoum, talking on situation of anonymity, mentioned he was in good well being regardless of three days in detention, and that he nonetheless had entry to his phone.

“He and his household are a bargaining chip now,” mentioned Nathaniel Powell, an Africa analyst with Oxford Analytica, a danger evaluation agency primarily based in Britain.

Niger, a rustic of 26 million and the world’s third poorest, in keeping with the United Nations, has additionally been a popular recipient of humanitarian support and Western funding as one of many final democracies run by a civilian president within the area.

The way forward for these efforts now seems to be doubtful. An influential official, Common Tchiani had been named as the top of the presidential guard in 2011 by Mr. Bazoum’s predecessor, Mahamadou Issoufou.

The overall was accused of collaborating in a coup try in 2015, however denied any involvement and in the end remained near Mr. Issoufou, who stayed in energy till 2021, when Mr. Bazoum took workplace.

The presidential guard contains tons of of well-equipped and -trained troops, in keeping with Nigerien and Western safety analysts.

The USA, the United Nations and the West African financial bloc, often called ECOWAS, have all condemned the navy takeover, and the French Overseas Ministry mentioned in a press release on Friday afternoon that it didn’t acknowledge new leaders of Niger.

A senior White Home spokesman, John Kirby, warned Friday that the US might finish monetary assist and safety cooperation for Niger if diplomacy just isn’t in a position to reverse the navy takeover of the African nation. He mentioned the US and its allies have been “doing the whole lot we will” to make sure that Mr. Bazoum stays the chief of Niger.

The streets of Niamey, the capital, remained principally calm following Common Tchiani’s tv deal with, with banks closed however many companies open. The generals supporting the coup had closed the nation’s borders, ordered political actions suspended and imposed a nighttime curfew.

Residents appeared divided over the takeover. Salifou Mahamdou, a garments vendor, mentioned that he welcomed the coup as a result of insecurity had lengthy slowed growth. “Even when the navy stays in energy ceaselessly, who cares, so long as they grant us safety,” he mentioned.

Aïcha Habibou, a 20-year-old nurse, mentioned she thought little would change. “Every time there’s a coup,” she mentioned, “the officers give us the identical speech about change, however additionally they come to steal public cash.”

In Niamey on Thursday, tons of of demonstrators had gathered in assist of the navy. Some shouted “Bazoum has fallen, we’re free.” Others waved Russian flags in a scene paying homage to latest coups in Burkina Faso and Mali.

Navy officers in Mali have partnered with Russia’s Wagner mercenary firm to battle Islamist insurgents, and Burkina Faso’s prime minister traveled to Moscow just a few months after a navy junta.

A shift in alliances might have main implications for Western international locations and worldwide our bodies. The United Nations has deliberate to make use of Niger as a logistical hub for the withdrawal of its 13,000-personnel peacekeeping operation in Mali, which is scheduled to depart on the finish of the 12 months. France depends upon Niger’s uranium mines for about 15 % of the sources to gasoline its nuclear energy crops.

Mr. Powell known as Mr. Bazoum’s management among the finest within the area, mixing a powerful navy response to safety crises with growth initiatives and partnerships with Western international locations.

Niger had taken benefit of the collapses of civilian order in Burkina Faso and Mali, he mentioned, to strengthen ties with the West. However he added that Western international locations working with Niger had turned a blind eye to long-running dysfunctions throughout the nation’s navy.

Michael D. Shear contributed reporting from Washington.

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