Military council names new leader of Niger, suspends constitution

Lin Congyi
2023-07-29 21:46:56

NIAMEY, July 28 (Xinhua) -- General Abdourahamane Tchiani, former leader of Niger's presidential guard, has been named "president of the National Council for the Safeguard of the Homeland" (CNSP) following a military takeover in the West African country, state television reported Friday.

The military took over control of Niger because it concerned itself with the continued deterioration of the security situation and poor economic and social governance, the CNSP said Friday in a press release.

Later in the day, Tchiani signed an order to suspend the Constitution and dissolved the government, empowering the CNSP to exercise all legislative and executive authorities and the president of the council to represent the country in international relations.

Niger's Defense and Security Forces said late Wednesday that soldiers in the country had overthrown President Mohamed Bazoum, hours after the president was allegedly held hostage.

The international community has voiced concerns about the situation in Niger.

South Africa condemned the attempted coup in Niger and called on the military establishment to ensure Bazoum's safety, return to the barracks and restore order in the country.

The South African government strongly rejects unlawful seizure of power by any group or individual as this reverses democratic gains and development and threatens the realization of Africa's aspiration for a better Africa, the government said in a statement.

Kenyan President William Ruto said Friday that the unconstitutional change of power was subverting the democratic gains made by African nations over the years.

"Kenya joins the rest of the world to condemn, in the strongest terms, this unconstitutional act that subverts democracy through a coup-d'etat and calls for the immediate release of President Bazoum who is reportedly seized by members of the Presidential Guard," he said in a statement issued in the coastal city of Mombasa.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Thursday demanded the immediate and unconditional release of Bazoum, as the world body is suspending humanitarian operations in Niger due to the situation in the country.

"The problem on the air right now is that our humanitarian flights cannot fly within the country which means that our humanitarian operations are suspended," Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for Guterres, told reporters later at a daily press briefing.

There are currently 4.3 million people in need of humanitarian assistance in Niger, compared to 1.9 million in 2017, Dujarric said.

More than 370,000 people are displaced within Niger, which also hosts more than 250,000 refugees, mainly from Nigeria, Mali and Burkina Faso, according to the spokesman.

Namibia strongly condemned the attempted coup in Niger on Thursday. In a statement, Penda Naanda, executive director in the Ministry of International Relations and Cooperation, said that Namibia stands firmly against any attempt to seize power through unconstitutional means.

"Namibia remains resolute in its stance on zero tolerance for acceding to power through unconstitutional means and supports the statement by the African Union on the attempted coup, in which it calls on the people of Niger, as well as all their brothers in Africa, particularly those in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), and around the world, to unite in unanimous condemnation of the coup attempt and to demand the immediate and unconditional return of the soldiers to their barracks," Naanda said.

The ECOWAS is a regional political and economic union of 15 countries located in West Africa.

West African leaders are closely monitoring the developments in Niger and would resist any attempted coup in that country, Nigerian President Bola Tinubu said Wednesday.

Tinubu, also chairman of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of the ECOWAS, said in a statement that he has been in close consultation with other leaders in the region. "The ECOWAS leadership will not accept any action that impedes the smooth functioning of legitimate authority in Niger or any part of West Africa."

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