April 20, 2024 5:34 am
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Unveiling General Tchiani: The Mysterious Army Veteran Who Seized Power In Niger

Introducing General Abdourahamane Tchiani: The Mysterious Power Behind Niger’s Military Coup

General Abdourahamane Tchiani, the chief of Niger’s powerful presidential guard who recently seized power in a military coup, is a renowned army veteran with a history of thwarting similar uprisings in the volatile West African nation. Despite his significant military achievements, Tchiani has remained relatively unknown to the outside world, opting to operate discreetly in the background.

A Force to be Reckoned With

At the age of 59, Tchiani has been the commanding officer of the elite 700-member presidential guard since 2011. “He is not well known outside military circles. He is a man in the background, powerful,” says Ibrahim Yahaya Ibrahim, a researcher with the International Crisis Group think tank.

The Coup Unleashed

On Friday, Tchiani emerged from the shadows, declaring himself the new leader after orchestrating a takeover that began on Wednesday, when his presidential guards seized President Mohamed Bazoum and confined him to the presidential palace.

Niger: A Nation of Struggles

Niger, an impoverished country with vast uranium deposits, has endured four coups since gaining independence from France in 1960. It has also experienced numerous failed coup attempts. Currently, the nation is grappling with escalating jihadist violence that has plagued its neighboring countries as well.

A Rocky Relationship

Tchiani is a staunch ally of former president Mahamadou Issoufou, Bazoum’s predecessor, who appointed him as the head of the presidential guard in 2011. While Bazoum initially kept Tchiani in his position, their relationship soured in recent months, leading to speculations that the president was considering replacing him.

The Rise of General Tchiani

Tchiani hails from Filingue, an arid region located approximately 200 kilometers northwest of the capital, Niamey. He has served on missions for the United Nations and the West African regional bloc ECOWAS in countries like Ivory Coast and Sudan. Filingue, part of the Tillaberi region, has been a hotbed of insurgent attacks for nearly eight years, with groups linked to Al-Qaeda, the Islamic State, and jihadists from neighboring Nigeria causing havoc in the area.

A Controversial Figure

While Tchiani has his share of critics who deem him controversial, those close to him describe him as a “brave” and “popular” leader. Supporters argue that his ability to successfully lead his men in the coup is a testament to the trust they have in him. Issa Abdou, a figure in civil society, asserts, “How could he have led his men in the putsch if they didn’t have confidence in him?”

The Making of a Powerful Force

Under Issoufou’s directive, Tchiani transformed the presidential guard into a formidable force equipped with advanced weaponry. His past achievements include quashing multiple coup attempts, notably in 2021 and 2022. Former soldier Amadou Bounty Diallo asserts, “General Tiani is an officer who has proven himself on the ground.”

As the situation continues to unfold, the new junta, comprising senior officers, including Salifou Mody, the former chief of staff of the armed forces who was dismissed in April, is now steering the course of Niger’s future.

Source: AFP

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