General Abdourahamane Tiani has been declared as Niger’s new head of state following a military coup that overthrew President Mohamed Bazoum.
Tiani was the head of the presidential guard that held Bazoum hostage in the presidential palace on Wednesday, on account of “bad governance and worsening security”.
The general appeared on state television on Friday, with a banner on the screen describing him as the president of the National Council for Safeguarding the Homeland (CNSP), a newly formed military council.
Tiani said the intervention had been necessary to avoid “the gradual and inevitable demise” of the country, and that while Bazoum had sought to convince people that “all is going well… the harsh reality (is) a pile of dead, displaced, humiliation and frustration”.
“The security approach today has not brought security to the country despite heavy sacrifices,” he added.
There was no mention of a timeline for return to civilian leadership.
On Thursday, Amadou Abdramane, the spokesperson of the military group, flanked by some soldiers, announced that Bazoum had been removed from office and that the constitution had been suspended.
The country’s borders were also shut as a result of the coup.
The Nigerien army command said it was supporting the seizure in a bid to thwart bloodshed. The army also warned against foreign military intervention, adding that it might have “disastrous and uncontrolled consequences”.
Numerous calls from other countries and global organisations to reinstate Bazoum as president have been ignored.
Although the military said Bazoum’s well-being would be prioritised, the president’s whereabouts are unknown.
Following the coup’s announcement, the Niger president tweeted on Thursday, saying “the hard-won achievements will be safeguarded” and that “all Nigeriens who love democracy and freedom will see to it.”
Niger has experienced five successful coups since its independence from France in 1960.
President Bola Tinubu, chairperson of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), condemned the development, saying the union would not tolerate anti-democratic acts in its region.
Tinubu assured that ECOWAS would do everything in its power to ensure that peace and stability return to the troubled West African country and the region at large.