It’s a stab in the back. The head of Niger’s Presidential Guard, Abdourahamane Tiani, spoke on national television on Friday July 28 to announce that he would henceforth lead the country and that he was the “new strongman”de facto removing the president Mohammad Bazoum. Since the start of the coup, the head of state elected in 2021 has been held captive with his family in the presidential residence in Niamey, the capital of Niger.
Aged 59, General Tiani is described as a man in the shadows, powerful, tough, but not unanimous. “We don’t know him much outside military circles, he has no public presence displayed”describes Ibrahim Yahaya Ibrahim, researcher for the NGO International Crisis Group, interviewed by AFP.
He comes from a region plagued by jihadists
Originally from Filingué, General Abdourahamane Tiani was born in a very arid and landlocked area, some 200 km northeast of Niamey, in the Tillabéri region, the scene of attacks by jihadist groups for several years. A career soldier, the self-proclaimed leader has served several times in UN missions: in Côte d’Ivoire, Congo, Darfur, Sudan, as well as in a mission of the Community of West African States (ECOWAS). ) in Ivory Coast. “General Tiani is an officer who has proven himself in the field”says ex-soldier Amadou Bounty Diallo.
He was to be replaced by President Mohamed Bazoum
Abdourahamane Tiani is a loyal supporter of former President Mahamadou Issoufou, who appointed him in 2011 to head the Presidential Guard. He was then reappointed to his post by Mohamed Bazoum when he was elected in 2021. But, according to relatives of the Nigerian president contacted by AFP, relations between General Tiani and the head of state had deteriorated. degraded for several months and Mohamed Bazoum had recently expressed his desire to replace him.
“His replacement and an in-depth overhaul of the Presidential Guard were to be decided this Thursday (July 27) in the Council of Ministers”, says a close friend of Mohamed Bazoum to AFP. But “in accordance with the guidelines of (the former president) Mahamadou Issoufou, he transformed the Presidential Guard into a powerful machine equipped with sophisticated armaments”underlines an anonymous official, still with AFP.
He led the 700 men of the Presidential Guard
Those close to him describe him as “valiant” And “popular” with some 700 members of his unit. His detractors claim that the general is “controversial” within the Presidential Guard itself. “How could he have dragged his elements into the putsch if they didn’t trust him?” wonders, however, Issa Abdou, a civil society actor, to AFP.
However, this is not the first time that the name of Abdourahamane Tiani has been associated with a putsch affair. During the failed coup in 2015, some soldiers named him as one of the instigators, reports Young Africa, but his guilt could never be proven. Conversely, according to the authorities, General Tiani thwarted several coup attempts, in 2021 and 2022 in particular.
It is not recognized by the international community
The chairman of the African Union was quick to condemn “firmly” the coup led by General Tiani. In a press release dated July 26, Moussa Faki Mahamat felt that Abdourahamane Tiani had acted “in total betrayal of their republican duty”. Secondly, the African Union demanded “the restoration of constitutional authority within a maximum period of fifteen days”.
President Emmanuel Macron, for his part, condemned “with the greatest firmness” the Coup d’Etat. Like the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the‘European Union “does not recognize and will not recognize the authorities resulting from the putsch”, said Josep Borrell, the head of European diplomacy. His American counterpart Antony Blinken assured him the deposed President Mohamed Bazoum of “unwavering support” from Washington.