Tens of thousands of protesters gathered outside a French military base in Niger’s capital Niamey on Saturday demanding that its troops leave in the wake of a military coup that has widespread popular support but which Paris refuses to recognise.
The July 26 coup – one of eight in West and Central Africa since 2020 – has sucked in global powers concerned about a shift to military rule across the region….CONTINUE READING
Most impacted is France, whose influence over its former colonies has waned in West Africa in recent years just as popular vitriol has grown.
Its forces have been kicked out of neighbouring Mali and Burkina Faso since coups in those countries, reducing its role in a region-wide fight against deadly Islamist insurgencies.
Anti-French sentiment has risen in Niger since the coup but soured further last week when France ignored the junta’s order for its ambassador, Sylvain Itte, to leave. Police have been instructed to expel him, the junta said.
Outside the military base on Saturday, protesters slit the throat of a goat dressed in French colours and carried coffins draped in French flags as a line of Nigerien soldiers looked on. Others carried signs calling for France to leave.
Reuters reporters said it was the biggest gathering yet since the coup, suggesting that support for the junta – and derision of France – was not waning.
“We are ready to sacrifice ourselves today, because we are proud,” said demonstrator Yacouba Issoufou. “They plundered our resources and we became aware. So they’re going to get out.”
France is not the only country with concerns. West Africa’s regional bloc ECOWAS has slapped sanctions on Niger and threatened military action as a last resort. The United States and European powers also have troops stationed in the country….CONTINUE READING
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