On Sunday, thousands of people in Niger participated in marches for the third day in a row, demanding that France, the country’s former colonial ruler, pull its troops out of the country. This demand is in line with the goals of the junta that took power in July.
“Hail to the United States! France, get out!” the protesters screamed, echoing demands that have been heard at different gatherings that have taken place in Niamey since the coup d’etat that took place on July 26.
On Friday, the military administration in Niger issued a fresh verbal salvo directed at France, accusing the French capital of “blatant interference” in the country’s internal affairs by supporting the deposed president. Since that time, tens of thousands of people have joined the demonstration that is taking place at a roundabout that is located close to the Niger military post where French soldiers are stationed.
After France took a stance in support of Mohamed Bazoum, the deposed president of the country, relations with France, the country’s former colonial power and an ally in its fight against jihadism, quickly deteriorated. The dictatorship made the announcement on August 3 that it would be terminating its military accords with France, which now has approximately 1,500 troops stationed in the nation.
The military rulers of Niger have announced the “expulsion” of the French ambassador, Sylvain Itte, and stated that they will be revoking his diplomatic immunity. They claimed that his presence posed a risk to the maintenance of public order. However, French President Emmanuel Macron praised Itte’s work in Niger on Monday and praised the fact that he remained in the nation despite being set a deadline of only 48 hours to leave.
On Sunday, France provided yet another justification for maintaining its ambassador’s position. “He is our representative to the legitimate authorities in Niger,” stated Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna in an interview with the newspaper Le Monde. She went on to say that “we don’t have to bow to the injunctions of a minister who has no legitimacy and that Paris was making sure “that he can face the pressure from the putschists in complete safety.”