Gen Abdourahmane Tchiani has declared himself the new leader of Niger after a dramatic coup.
Also known as Omar Tchiani, he staged a takeover which started on Wednesday when the presidential guards unit he led seized the country’s leader.
Deposed President Mohamed Bazoum was the first elected leader to succeed another since independence in 1960.
Mr Bazoum is currently thought to be in good health, and still held captive by his own guards.
He had been considered a key ally by Western nations in the fight against Islamist militants in the region.
France has said that it does not recognise any of the coup’s leaders and will only recognise Mr Bazoum as head of state.
“We reiterate in the strongest terms the international community’s clear demand for the immediate restoration of constitutional order and democratically elected civilian power,” a statement from the French foreign ministry read.
The coup has also been roundly condemned by international bodies including the African Union, West African regional bloc (Ecowas), the EU and the UN.
However, the leader of Russia’s Wagner mercenary group has reportedly praised the coup, describing it as a triumph.
“What happened in Niger is nothing other than the struggle of the people of Niger with their colonisers,” Yevgeny Prigozhin was quoted as saying on a Wagner-affiliated Telegram channel.
The BBC has not been able to verify the authenticity of his reported comments.