Niger’s national broadcaster identified Gen. Abdourahamane Tiani as president of the country’s new military government on July 28 following a coup that deposed elected President Mohamed Bazoum. The country’s new ruling junta, called the National Council for the Safeguarding of the Homeland, was formed out of Niger’s presidential guard, which carried out the coup, with the immediate support of the army.
In a televised message, Tiani said that the Council deposed Bazoum’s 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 these neighboring countries have recently undergone military coups, with Burkina Faso’s most recent occurring in October 2022 and Mali’s in May 2021.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken had a call with Bazoum and former Nigerien president Mahamadou Issoufou on July 28, in which he said that the US “will continue to work to ensure the full restoration of constitutional order and democratic rule in Niger.”
Blinken and French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna also had a call July 28 in which 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 part of “the struggle of the people of Niger [against] their colonizers,” and offered his fighters’ services to bring order. Pro-coup protesters in Niger have been photographed with Russian flags, although 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 May 2021, less than one year after a previous coup in August 2020. The military in Guinea also carried out a coup in September 2021, citing government mismanagement of internal affairs.
From Jurist, July 29. Used with permission.
See our last reports on the Wagner Group, Yevgeny Prigozhin, and the coups d’etat in Mali, Burkina Faso and Guinea. Both Mali and Burkina Faso broke military ties with France after their respective coups, and both countries have since contracted the services of the Wagner Group. Mali has additionally ejected UN peacekeepers from its territory. The new coup in Niger throws into the question the fate of the drone base that the US operates in the northern Agadez region of the country.