Niger’s national broadcaster identified Army General Abdourahamane Tiani as President of Niger’s new military government on Friday following a coup that deposed former President Mohamed Bazoum. The country’s ruling council, called the National Council for the Safeguarding of the Homeland, was formed out of Niger’s presidential guard, which carried out the coup.
In a televised message, Tiani said that the council deposed the old elected government, calling it a “regime,” over its handling of Niger’s jihadist insurgency as well as poor economic and social conditions within the country. Specifically, Tiani criticized the previous government’s hesitation to work with bordering countries Burkina Faso and Mali to combat insurgencies in Africa’s Sahel region. Both countries recently underwent military coups with Burkina Faso’s occurring in October 2022 and Mali’s in May 2021.
The coup in Niger has been condemned by many countries and international organizations, including the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the African Union.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken had a call with Bazoum and former Nigerien President Mahamadou Issoufou on Friday where he said that the US “will continue to work to ensure the full restoration of constitutional order and democratic rule in Niger.”
France, along with the European Union (EU), suspended aid to Niger on Saturday. It and the EU also explicitly refused to recognize the new council as Niger’s government.
Blinken and French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna had a call Friday where they discussed the situation in Niger. Both the US and France have called for the release of Bazoum, who is currently being held in Niger’s Presidential Palace.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov called the coup an “unconstitutional undertaking.” However, Wagner Group commander Yevgeni Prigozhin lauded the coup as an anti-colonial effort. Pro-coup protesters in Niger have been photographed with Russian flags, but Russian diplomat Mikhail Bogdanov denied accusations of Russian involvement.
Niger’s coup marks the sixth one in West Africa since 2020. In October 2022, soldiers in Burkina Faso carried out a coup after accusing authorities of failing to quash the country’s insurgency. That coup followed a similar one in January 2022. A coup took place in Mali in 2021, less than one year after the previous coup in 2020. The military in Guinea also carried out a coup there in 2021, citing government mismanagement of internal affairs.