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NIGER: Presidential guard commander appointed acting president

Map of Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)
The commander of Niger's presidential guard unit, Major Daouda Mallam Wanke, was appointed the country's interim head of state on Sunday following the assassination of President Ibrahim Bare Mainassara. Sources in the capital, Niamey, told IRIN on Monday the city was calm following what state radio called Mainassara's "sudden death". Diplomatic sources, including the US State Department, said Mainassara had been gunned down at Niamey military airport on Friday by Wanke's presidential guard. Mainassara, who himself came to power in a military coup when he overthrew the country's first democratically elected government in 1996, was buried on Sunday in his home village, Doumega, some 200 km south of Niamey. Wanke, 45, a father of four who trained at a military academy in France, was appointed chairman of a new ruling body of army officers called the National Reconciliation Council (NRC). Telephone communications with the outside world, which were briefly cut at the weekend, were reported working normally again on Monday. In one of his first acts as NRC chairman, Wanke held talks with the Nigerian envoy and the ambassadors of France and the United States, according to a state radio report. Army spokesman Hamidou Djibrila said the military had ordered the suspension of the constitution and the dissolution of the Supreme Court and National Assembly. Sources told IRIN that opposition parties were nevertheless meeting to discuss ways of pressing the military "to announce a transition to civilian rule as soon as possible". Wanke's "classic coup", as the BBC called it, was condemned by several neighbouring countries, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Organisation of African Unity (OAU).

This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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