- Thousands in Niamey demand France’s troop withdrawal from Niger, following calls from civil organizations opposing France’s military presence
- The military junta accuses France of “blatant interference” in support of the deposed president, straining relations
Thousands of people marched in Niger’s capital, Niamey, on Saturday to demand that France withdraw its troops, as requested by the military junta that took power in June.
Following a call from several civil organizations opposed to France’s military presence in the West African country, protesters gathered near a base housing French soldiers.
They held banners that read, “French army; leave our country.”
On Friday, Niger’s military regime launched a new verbal attack on France, accusing it of “blatant interference” by supporting the country’s deposed president, as protesters staged a similar demonstration near a French base outside Niamey.
Ousted President Mohamed Bazoum, a French ally whose election in 2021 had raised hopes of stability in the troubled country, was detained by members of his guard on July 26.
After Paris supported Bazoum, relations with France, the country’s former colonial power and ally in the fight against jihadism, deteriorated rapidly.
On August 3, the regime announced the termination of military agreements with France, which has approximately 1,500 soldiers stationed in the country to assist in the fight against jihadism in the region – a move that Paris has rejected on the basis of legitimacy.
According to military leaders, the agreements cover different timeframes, but one from 2012 was set to expire within a month.
The military rulers have also announced the immediate “expulsion” of French Ambassador Sylvain Itte and the withdrawal of his diplomatic immunity, citing his presence as a threat to public order.
However, French President Emmanuel Macron praised Itte’s work in Niger on Monday, saying he was still in the country despite being given a 48-hour deadline to leave.