Niger’s President Mohamed Bazoum was ousted in a recent coup, and the new leader, General Abdoulrahman Cheiani, made a significant announcement on state television on Friday, he declared himself the head of a transitional council following the military’s takeover of power on Wednesday.
The coup was triggered by the country’s deteriorating security situation and the increasing threat of jihadist violence.
Who is General Abdoulrahman Cheiani?
He has been in command of the Presidential Guard since 2015 and hails from the Tilaberi region in western Niger. Known for his close ties to former President Mohamed Youssoufou, General Cheiani led the elite corps of the Nigerien army responsible for protecting the head of state. He has successfully thwarted coup attempts in the past, demonstrating his influence within the country’s military circles. General Cheiani retained his position when President Bazoum assumed power in April 2021.
However, General Cheiani remains a controversial figure within the Nigerien army. During Youssoufou’s presidency, the Presidential Guard received special attention to safeguard against any potential coup attempts, given the country’s history of facing four such attempts since gaining independence in 1960. The guard comprises around 700 well-trained and well-equipped personnel.
Amid the coup, the Nigerien army declared its loyalty to the defense and security forces that took part in ousting President Bazoum, aiming to prevent internal strife within the armed forces. Despite the coup, the detained President and his Foreign Minister Housoumi Massoudou vehemently rejected the military’s actions and maintained that they still represent the legitimate authorities in the country.
As the nation faces a complex political situation, General Abdoulrahman Cheiani has emerged as a central figure in the transitional council, taking on the responsibility of leading Niger through a critical period of uncertainty.