Niger’s military regime, which seized power in a coup in July, has accused France of deploying forces in several West African countries with a view to “military intervention”.
The regime spokesman, Colonel Major Amadou Abdramane, said in a statement on Saturday that France was gathering forces, war materials, and equipment in countries such as Senegal, Cote d’Ivoire, and Benin.
Abdramane said France had deployed military aircraft, helicopters, and 40 armored vehicles to Cote d’Ivoire and Benin. He also said that France was planning an aggression against Niger in collaboration with the regional bloc ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States), which has threatened to intervene militarily if diplomatic pressure to restore the ousted president Mohamed Bazoum fails.
Relations with France, Niger’s former colonial power, have deteriorated rapidly after Paris refused to recognize the military regime and stood by Bazoum, who was elected in February but overthrown by the army on July 26. On August 3, Niger’s coup leaders renounced several military cooperation agreements with France, which has about 1,500 soldiers stationed in the country as part of a wider fight against jihadists. The regime also demanded the expulsion of the French ambassador Sylvain Itte, but France rejected the request, saying the coup leaders had no legal authority to make such an order.
Meanwhile, thousands of people have been protesting in the Nigerien capital Niamey for more than a week, demanding the departure of French troops from the country.