Niger’s military junta appointed a transitional prime minister on Monday (August 7) as per a decree which was read on national television, say reports in local media. Ali Lamine Zene, will now lead the caretaker government as prime minister. The development has come more than a week after a military coup toppled President Mohamed Bazoum.
Ali Lamine Zene is an economist. He was made the new prime minister by General Abdourahmane Tchiani, who is the self-declared head of the transitional government.
Zene (58) has served as finance minister under Mamadou Tandja.
Tandja led the country from 1999 to 2010 after civilian rule was re-established in the country. Zene is the current Country Manager for Chad in African Development Bank. He has previously served in Ivory Coast and Gabon for the bank. Media reports have said that he is now expected to lead consultation for formation of new government.
Niger: Top developments right now
US Deputy Secretary of State Victoria Nuland has met Niger’s military leaders and pressed for reversal of the coup. But there reportedly has been no headway. Such an ultimatum to Niger junta given by Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) was ignored. Nuland’s trip on Monday was carried out in secrecy till she left. She described the talks “extremely frank and at times quite difficult”.
Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said that diplomacy is the ‘preferred way’ to resolve the situation in Niger.
“Diplomacy is certainly the preferred way of resolving this situation,” he told French Radio RFI on Monday.
“It is ECOWAS’ current approach. It is our approach,” he said
The African bloc ECOWAS is renewing its diplomatic push to resolve situation in Niger. The 15-nation bloc is is reconvening a summit on Thursday in Nigerian capital Abuja. A military intervention has been warned of but it has not taken place till now.
Niger junta has found support from Mali and Burkina Faso, two countries in the region which have already seen military coups within their borders. Both the countries are run by juntas. Mali on Monday warned that a military intervention by ECOWAS would be a “disaster”.
“The military force that has been used in other… countries, we see the results — it’s a disaster,” said Malian Foreign Minister Abdoulaye Diop.
Both, Burkina Faso and Mali have previously said that any military intervention in Niger to restore President Bazoum would be considered ‘declaration of war’ against the two countries.
(With inputs from agencies)