By Abiodun OBA
Military leaders in Niger who seized power in a coup last month are adamant in their holding on to power as they have formed a new government, according to a decree read out on national television on Thursday.
Prime Minister Ali Mahaman Lamine Zeine is to lead the 21-member government, with generals from the new military governing council heading the defence and interior ministries.
Gen. Abdourahamane Tchiani, the head of the mutineers who took control of Niger, has issued a decree establishing a new transitional administration.
The ActuNiger news portal states that Tchiani signed the order on Wednesday and that the new interim administration now has 21 ministers.
A very small percentage of the new government’s members are listed as serving in the military.
President Mohamed Bazoum was overthrown and detained on July 26 by his own guards, led by Tchiani, who proclaimed himself the new president of the nation.
The country’s borders were then shut down by the interim National Council for the Safeguard of the Homeland, disregarding security pacts with France, Niger’s former colonial power.
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) froze the assets of the rebels and suspended all financial help to the nation on July 30. The sub-regional union also blocked all borders and forbade commercial flights into and out of the nation.
Subsequently, ECOWAS warned that if Bazoum was not reinstated and order was restored, it would turn to military action and gave the coup leaders one week to do so. However, Sunday marked the end of the deadline
Meanwhile, ECOWAS leaders are currently meeting in Abuja, to discuss the Nigerien issue where the chairman Nigeria’s President Bola Tinubu introduced the presence of members of delegation sent to the Republic.
The session has gone into a close-door deliberation.