As demonstrators gathered close to a French base outside the nation’s capital, Niamey, on Friday, the military government of Niger unleashed yet another verbal salvo at Paris, charging it with “blatant interference” in support of the country’s expelled president. Members of President Mohamed Bazoum’s guard detained him on July 26. Bazoum is a French ally whose victory in 2021 raised hopes of peace in the unstable nation.
A statement by French President Emmanuel Macron endorsing Bazoum “constitutes further blatant interference in Niger’s domestic affairs,” according to the statement read aloud on public television by the regime’s spokesperson, Colonel Amadou Abdramane. The West African organization ECOWAS, which has vowed to act militarily if diplomatic pressure to reinstate the elected Bazoum fails, is itself locked in a standoff with the Sahel state.
Macron made the following statement on Monday: “I call on all the states in the region to adopt a responsible policy. Referring to this as “a partnership approach,” he stated that France “supports (ECOWAS’) diplomatic action and, when it so decides, (its) military” action.
Further praise for Bazoum’s “commitment, action, and courage” came from Macron on Friday. He declared that the leaders of Niger had “no legitimacy” and that France would decide how to deal with Niger “on the basis of exchanges with President Bazoum.”
The Nigerien people want nothing more than to determine their own destiny; therefore, Abdramane stated, “Mr. Macron’s remarks and his relentless efforts in favor of an invasion of Niger aim to perpetuate a neocolonial operation against them. These “differences” between Niger and France, according to Abdramane, “do not touch on the relationship between our peoples or on individuals, but on the relevance of the French military presence in Niger.”
The dictatorship criticized military accords with France on August 3, a move that Paris has disregarded due to concerns about legality.
The agreements cover varying periods of time; nevertheless, military authorities stated that one of the 2012 agreements was scheduled to expire in less than a month. Protest France has deployed about 1,500 troops to Niger to assist in quelling a violent insurgency by jihadists. A large number of these troops are based at an airbase close to the capital. On Friday, thousands of people demonstrated in front of the base to demand that the soldiers leave.
The M62, a group of civic organizations opposed to the French military presence in Niger, is planning the three-day “sit-in. Falma Taya, an M62 leader, declared, “France must leave, and she will leave, because Niger is not her home. The dictatorship gave Sylvain Itte, the French ambassador, 48 hours to leave the country a week prior.
France has declined the request as well, claiming that the military government lacked the legal right to eject him. According to Colonel Pierre Gaudilliere, the French military spokesman, “the French military forces are ready to respond to any upturn in tension that could harm French diplomatic and military premises in Niger” on Thursday.
The pursuit of a peaceful resolution to the problem is ongoing, notwithstanding the tensions. Bola Tinubu, the president of Nigeria and the current chairman of ECOWAS, has taken a firm stance against the coup. On Thursday, he proposed a nine-month return to democracy. This week, Algeria, which shares a land border with Niger of 1,000 kilometers (620 miles), proposed a six-month transitional plan that would be under the control of a civilian authority.