Niger general declares himself country’s new leader following coup

A Niger general who runs the country’s presidential guard declared himself the country’s new leader on Friday, two days after he led his soldiers in a coup d’etat that overthrew the nation’s president. 

General Abdourahmane Tchiani made the announcement during a speech on Niger’s state television, calling himself president and saying the coup was necessary “to preserve our homeland in the face of the continuing deterioration of our country’s security situation.” Tchiani added that there was “no real solution to the crisis in sight from the ousted authorities…the current security approach has failed to secure our country.”

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Tchiani’s speech came two days after he and his soldiers seized power from the country’s democratically elected president, Mohamed Bazoum, by overtaking the presidential palace. Bazoum, who was democratically elected in 2021, was detained by Tchiani’s forces, and sources told Al Jazeera that “it remains unclear where Bazoum is or if he is still being detained.” 

This marks yet another change of power for the West African country, which has recently seen heightened instability. The last coup attempt against Bazoum was in 2021, two days before he was slated to be inaugurated, though that uprising was unsuccessful. 

The coup was condemned by African leaders as well as many Western countries. The United States has given more than $500 million in aid to Niger over the past decade, and Vice President Kamala Harris said in a statement that “substantial cooperation with the government of Niger is contingent on Niger’s continued commitment to democratic standards.”

As the coup was unfolding, Secretary of State Antony Blinken called Bazoum to reaffirm that American partnership with Niger “depends on the continuation of democratic governance and respect for the rule of law.” In a separate press release, the State Department warned that aid to Niger could be in jeopardy due to the coup. 

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