« Thousands of Nigerien protesters mobilized on Friday in front of the French military base in Niamey to demand the troops leave the country, following the military coup that took over Niger’s government on 26 July.
Protesters claimed they aim to extend the massive protest across the whole country for the next three days, matching the deadline set by the new military government for the departure of French troops from Niger on 3 September. According to local media, 1,500 French troops are currently deployed in Niger.
« From this day on, here we will give a one-week ultimatum to France, to get its soldiers out of Niger. Otherwise next week we will bring together three million Nigeriens. And if they do not leave our country we can freely enter the base and march peacefully in our base, because these are lands that belong to Nigeriens, they are not French lands. This is clear and this must be done. We have been very clear”, stated one of the protesters.
« This is to record the inevitable and imperative departure of the French forces in accordance with the decision of our legitimate authorities. Today we are here to say that the people of Niger are standing up, more than ever, mobilized and determined to assume their revolt », said Abdoulaye Seydou, one of the protest coordinators.
On July 26, the military takeover ousted President Mohamed Bazoum and installed General Abdourahamane Tchiani, the leader of the presidential guard, as head of state.
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) imposed sanctions and threatened military action, while the United States, the European Union, Russia and international groups condemned the action.
However, massive protests in support of the military emerged on the streets of Niamey. Neighbouring countries, Mali and Burkina Faso cautioned against any intervention by other West African nations, warning that it would be a ‘declaration of war’ against them too.
It marks the fifth coup in Niger since gaining independence from France in 1960, and it is the seventh military takeover to occur in West and Central Africa within three years. »