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Monday, April 12, 1999 Published at 07:10 GMT 08:10 UK


World: Africa

New military leader for Niger

The military has dissolved all Niger's governing institutions


West Africa correspondent Mark Doyle: "Military officers have taken power in a violent way"
The commander of Niger's presidential guard, Daouda Mallam Wanke, has been appointed interim head of state following the assassination of Niger's President Ibrahim Bare Mainassara.

State radio named Major Wanke the new president and reported that he will govern a National Council for Reconciliation for the next nine months.


[ image: President Mainassara: Took power in a coup in 1996]
President Mainassara: Took power in a coup in 1996
President Mainassara was killed just two days ago.

He was assassinated by the presidential guard which Major Wanke had been in charge of, according to the US State Department and most other sources including eyewitnesses.

Diplomatic sources say Major Wanke himself took part in the killing.

'Classic coup'


BBC World Service Africa Section's Munnir Dan-Ali: "There has been quiet reaction to the announcement"
Military leaders have also ordered the Supreme Court and National Assembly to be dissolved, and the constitution to be suspended.


[ image:  ]
"The armed forces of Niger understand the gravity of the situation and decided to put to rest the institutional void created by the sudden death of General Bare," said a military spokesman, Hamidou Djibrila.

Officials have not said whether the transition program will involve elections or an eventual change to civilian rule.

Reporting from the Niger capital, Niamey, the BBC's Mark Doyle said the announcement confirms that Niger has experienced a classic coup d'etat by a group of military officers and ends the uncertainty of the last few days during which there was a power vacuum.

Army chief refuses leadership

All Niger's superior military and police officers, and the head of the army, Colonel Moussa Moumouni Djermakoye, have been retired.


African journalist Stephen Smith talks about how much is known about Major Wanke
Colonel Djemarkoye, who attended the president's funeral, is reported to have refused to take over leadership of the country.

Military sources say he had been asked to govern by other chiefs of staff and military officials.

Colonel Djemarkoye reportedly demanded the arrest of the soldiers who gunned down the former president as a condition for his assuming power.

Major Wanke absent from funeral


Mark Doyle reports from the funeral
Despite widespread knowledge of the former president's death by assassination, state radio is still insisting that he died in an "unfortunate accident."

Speaking on condition of anonymity, eye-witnesses say Presidential Guard members repeatedly shot President Bare with a machine gun as he crossed the tarmac at Niamey's airport Friday to board a helicopter

The president's body was buried on Sunday at his birthplace, the village of Dougema, about 200km south of the capital.

Major Douda Mallan Wanke was reported to be absent from the ceremony.

Niger has been under a military regime since General Mainassara seized power in a coup d'etat three years ago.



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Internet Links


Niger Human Rights Watch

CIA Yearbook: Niger facts

Niger: Index on Africa


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