Niger replaced two top military brass on Monday, four days after an assault on an army base left 89 dead, the biggest single loss in the country’s modern history.
The new armed forces chief of staff is General Salifou Modi, who replaces General Ahmed Mohamed, the government said in a statement read on national radio.
The new army chief of staff is Brigadier General Seidou Bague, replacing Sidikou Issa.
Mohamed and Issa had been appointed to their jobs only in 2018.
Modi, 57, was a member of the Supreme Council for the Restoration for Democracy (CSRD), the official name of the military junta which staged a coup in 2010, returning the country to civilian rule after elections in 2011.
The decision was made in a cabinet meeting shortly before Niger’s President Mahamadou Issoufou left for Pau, southwestern France, for a summit on the crisis in the Sahel.
The summit brings together the G5 Sahel members – Burkina Faso, Chad, Niger, Mali and Mauritania – with France, the former colonial power in the region, which has deployed the 4,500-strong Operation Barkhane force to fight insurgents in the region.
In November, Macron said France was “confirming and consolidating its commitment” to the Sahel, noting that additional military resources would be forthcoming by early 2020, and that decisions would soon be announced on revamping the G5 Sahel Joint Force (FCG5S).
Niger declared three days of national mourning after the attack on Chinagodrar camp in western Niger last Thursday.
The Chinagodrar attack in Niger’s Tillaberi region occurred around 180 km east of Inates, where 71 Niger soldiers were killed in a December attack claimed by Islamic State that saw dozens of insurgents storm a military camp near the border with Mali. It was then the deadliest attack on Niger’s military since Islamist extremist violence began to spill over from neighboring Mali in 2015.
According to U.N. figures, attacks in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger last year left 4,000 dead.
With reporting from AFP