Delegations from Mali and Burkina Faso journeyed to Niamey on Monday to express unity with the coup leaders in Niger, as the region grapples with threats of intervention against them. These discussions took place following the expiration of a deadline set by the regional organization known as ECOWAS, which demanded that the Nigerien military reinstate ousted President Mohamed Bazoum.
Both Mali and Burkina Faso had previously issued warnings, stating that any external interference in Niger’s affairs would be regarded as a serious provocation amounting to a “declaration of war” against their respective nations.
Tensions in the region have surged in the aftermath of the coup that occurred nearly two weeks ago. During this upheaval, mutinous soldiers detained President Bazoum, leading to the installation of Gen. Abdourahmane Tchiani, former head of the presidential guard, as the new head of state.
This display of solidarity from Mali and Burkina Faso’s ruling juntas occurs amidst mounting pressure from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), which had set a firm deadline for the coup leaders to reinstate President Mohamed Bazoum. The failure to adhere to this ultimatum could potentially trigger military actions from the regional bloc.
The political crisis in Niger experienced a significant escalation on July 26 when the presidential guard detained President Bazoum. This act subsequently paved the way for Gen. Abdourahmane Tchiani to declare himself interim leader and take up the presidency of the caretaker National Council for the Safeguard of the Homeland.
Niger Junta Appoints New Prime Minister
Niger’s Military Coup Leaders Appoint Ali Mahaman Lamine Zeine as Prime Minister amid International Concerns
In a statement delivered on national television on Monday evening, Niger’s military coup leaders declared the appointment of Ali Mahaman Lamine Zeine as the country’s prime minister. The announcement comes at a time when the international community is striving to reinstate constitutional order following the recent coup.
Colonel Major Amadou Abdramane conveyed the news, stating, “Mr. (Ali Mahaman) Lamine Zeine has been appointed Prime Minister.”
Ali Mahaman Lamine Zeine has a history of serving under previous administrations. When former President Mamadou Tandja assumed power, he appointed Zeine as cabinet director in 2001 and later as finance minister in 2002. This move aimed to address the turbulent economic and financial conditions inherited from the military rule that followed the assassination of General and President Ibrahim Baré Maïnassara in 1999, marking a country marked by recurring power seizures through force.
Zeine continued as Finance Minister until Mamadou Tandja was ousted in a 2010 coup led by Major Salou Djibo, which was followed by a presidential election won by Mahamadou Issoufou. Issoufou’s successor, Mohamed Bazoum, was then deposed on July 26, leading to the current crisis.
Ali Mahaman Lamine Zeine, an economist by training, also served as the African Development Bank’s resident representative in Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, and Gabon. Born in 1965 in Zinder, the country’s second-largest city, he joined the Ministry of Economy and Finance in 1991 after studying at the Ecole nationale d’administration (ENA) in Niamey. He furthered his education by completing programs at the Centre d’études financières, économiques et bancaires in Marseille and Paris-I.
Additionally, “Lieutenant-Colonel Habibou Assoumane” has been appointed as “Commander of the Presidential Guard,” Colonel Major Abdramane added.
These appointments come a day after the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) presented the ruling military with an ultimatum to reinstate President Mohamed Bazoum to office. The organization didn’t exclude the possibility of using force if this demand remains unmet.
The issue of military intervention to restore civilian power has divided Niger’s Western and African partners. ECOWAS is set to convene again on Thursday in Abuja, Nigeria, to discuss further steps.
Since the day of the coup, President Bazoum has remained confined to his private residence.