General Abdourahamane Tchiani, the Head of the Niger Republic’s Presidential Guard, named as the new leader of the nation on Friday has warned against any foreign military intervention.
Tchiani, who appeared on state television, announced himself as the “president of the National Council for the Safeguard of the Homeland”, saying that the coup is a response to “the degradation of the security situation” linked to jihadist bloodshed.
A statement followed from the coupists on TV which warned of “the consequences that will flow from any foreign military intervention”.
“Certain dignitaries .. are in thinking of confrontation” which “will end in nothing but the massacre of the Nigerien population and chaos,” they claimed.
France had demanded the restoration of the democratically elected government of President Mohamed Bazoum saying it “does not recognise” the coupists, and calling Bazoum “sole president”.
French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna had seemed to hold out hope for the president’s position.
“If you hear me talking about an attempted coup, it’s because we don’t consider things final,” she said. “There is still a way out if those responsible listen to the international community.”
On Friday Kenyan President William Ruto called the army takeover “a serious setback” for Africa.
“The aspirations of the people of Niger for constitutional democracy were subverted by an unconstitutional change of government,” he said in a video message.
The European Union threatened to cut aid to Niamey after what it said was a “serious attack on stability and democracy” in Niger.
Bazoum and his family have been confined since Wednesday morning to their residence at the presidential palace located within the Guard’s military camp.
He is said to be in good health and has been able to talk by telephone to other heads of state.
The Guard’s chiefs who staged the coup on Thursday had won broad army support.
Armed forces chief General Abdou Sidikou Issa swung his weight behind the coupists saying it was “in order to avoid a deadly confrontation”.
The Economic Community of West African States would hold a summit “probably on Sunday”, where “possible sanctions could be decided”, Colonna said.
ECOWAS has demanded Bazoum’s “immediate release”, saying he “remains the legitimate and legal President of Niger”.
The coup plotters had on Thursday urged “the population to remain calm”, after young men ransacked Bazoum’s PNDS party headquarters, setting fire to vehicles.
They had split off from a 1,000 people who had demonstrated in the capital.