The African country’s military government accused Paris of “blatant interference” by backing the ousted president
Thousands of protesters gathered outside of the French military base in Niger’s capital, Niamey once again demanding the withdrawal of French forces from the country. The rally was sparked by a call from several civic organizations, opposed to the former colonial power’s military presence in the region.
A series of smaller protests leading up to the weekend rally have been “relatively calm and organized,” according to Al Jazeera. However, on Saturday some of the activists were seen “breaking the barriers set up by the security forces, police and the military” and trying to force their way into the base, which houses around 1,500 soldiers.
“French army, leave our country,” read the banners held by the demonstrators in Niamey.
Despite the warning by the French military that it would respond, if their military and diplomatic facilities were targeted in the renewed tensions, the demonstrators refused to leave.
Image of a large protest today outside the French military base in Niger demanding the withdrawal of French troops from the country. pic.twitter.com/fUhtOzuPnZ
— Trung Hiên (@hien_trung2) September 3, 2023ADVERTISEMENT
“We want to fight to remove from our country all military bases,” a protester told Al Jazeera. “We don’t want it. Because for more than 13 years terrorism has been here. They don’t care to fight terrorism,” he stressed.
— Mr Commonsense (@fopminui) September 3, 2023
Niger’s military government has accused Paris of “blatant interference” by backing ousted president Bazoum, who has been in custody since July 26.
#Niger: Mobilisation inédite et pacifique, jamais réalisée autour de la base aérienne à #Niamey où les #Nigeriens se sont massés pour exiger le départ des troupes #françaises . Pas de pire aveugle que celui qui ne veut ni entendre ni voir encore moins admettre. pic.twitter.com/feBfyStPLi
— DSaidou (@DjibrilSaidou) September 2, 2023
On Friday, President Emmanuel Macron said that he spoke to the deposed Nigerien leader “every day” and reassured his support towards Bazoum’s regime. The remarks caused backlash from Niger’s military leaders, who accused the French president of using “divisive rhetoric and seeking to perpetrate neo-colonial relationship.”
Niger’s military government spokesman, Colonel Amadou Abdramane, responded to Macron’s comments by saying that they “constitute further blatant interference in Niger’s domestic affairs,” adding that Niger’s “differences” with France “do not touch on the relationship between our peoples, or on individuals, but on the relevance of the French military presence in Niger.”
Last month, the military rulers announced the cancellation of military agreements with France and called for “immediate expulsion” of the French ambassador Sylvain Itte. The envoy’s diplomatic immunity had been withdrawn, on the basis that his presence constitutes a threat to public order.
France has refused to recall the diplomat from its former colony, stating that despite pressure from “illegitimate authorities,” the ambassador will remain in Niamey.
September 03, 2023 at 09:45AM