Thousands in Niger rally in support of Junta, want French troops withdrawn

Rally in Niger

Thousands rallied Saturday in Niamey in support of the military junta, asking France to withdraw her troops

Republic of the Niger’s capital, Niamey, on Saturday, witnessed a heavy rally by thousands of citizens showing support for the military junta and asking France to withdraw her troops from the country.

Protesters gathered near a base housing French soldiers following a call by several civil organisations hostile to the French military presence in the West African country.

They held up banners proclaiming: “French army; leave our country.”

Niger’s military regime had fired a new verbal outrage at France on Friday, accusing Paris of “blatant interference” by backing the country’s ousted president, as protesters held a similar protest near a French base outside Niamey.

The ousted President Mohamed Bazoum is a French ally whose election in 2021 had stoked hopes of stability in the troubled country.

He has been in the junta’s detention since the coup d’état of July 26.

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Relations with France, the country’s former colonial power and ally in its fight against jihadism, went swiftly downhill after Paris stood by Bazoum.

On August 3, the regime announced the scrapping of military agreements with France, which has some 1,500 soldiers stationed in the country to help fight jihadism in the region – a move that Paris has ignored on the grounds of legitimacy.

The agreements cover different timeframes, although one of them dating from 2012 was set to expire within a month, according to military leaders.

The military rulers have also announced the immediate “expulsion” of the French Ambassador, Sylvain Itte, and announced it was withdrawing his diplomatic immunity, noting that his presence was a threat to public order.

But French President, Emmanuel Macron, on Monday hailed Itte’s work in Niger and said he was in the country despite being given a 48-hour deadline to leave.

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