Head of Presidential Guard Announced as Leader in Niger Coup

A general in Niger appeared on state television on Friday as the head of the West African country’s transitional leadership, two days after members of the unit he leads detained the democratically elected president and threw into uncertainty the future of a key Western ally in the region.

The general, Omar Tchiani, who had led Niger’s presidential guard, made a broadcast address that appeared to confirm that the coup in Niger was complete. It would be the sixth military takeover in West Africa in less than three years, following in the steps of Burkina Faso, Guinea and Mali, and threatening to upend efforts to fight Islamist insurgencies in a region where groups affiliated with Al Qaeda and the Islamic State have made strides in recent years.

General Tchiani said his soldiers had removed President Mohamed Bazoum from power on Wednesday because of bad economic governance and poor management of the security situation. He also faulted the country’s leadership for not partnering with the military juntas in neighboring Burkina Faso and Mali, which have moved close to Russia in recent years while Mr. Bazoum, in Niger, stuck with Western partners like the United States and France.

“We can’t continue with the same approaches,” General Tchiani said. He made no mention of Mr. Bazoum.

Niger has been a key Western ally in the Sahel, the arid region south of the Sahara that has faced growing insecurity amid the worsening effects of climate change, political instability and armed insurgencies. The United States has 1,100 troops and two drone bases in Niger, and France, the former colonial power, more than 1,500 troops.

Omar Hama Saley contributed reporting from Niamey, Niger.

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