Thousands of people supporting the new military rulers of Niger rallied near a French military base in the capital Niamey on Saturday, demanding France to withdraw its ambassador and troops from the country as sought by the new junta establishment.
The protest came after several civic organisations hostile to the French military presence and the junta’s accusations against the former colonial power of “interference” called for a demonstration. They held up banners proclaiming, “French army, leave our country” and “Macron, tell your puppies to leave our land”.
Niger’s military government, which seized power on July 26, has accused French President Emmanuel Macron of using divisive rhetoric in his comments about the coup and seeking to impose a neocolonial relationship with its former colony. The military has also ordered France’s ambassador Sylvain Itte to leave the country within 48 hours, a decision that was rejected by Paris, which said it did not recognise the military rulers’ authority.
France has called for President Mohamed Bazoum to be returned to office after his ouster and has said it would support efforts by the west African regional bloc ECOWAS to overturn the coup. It has also not officially recognised a decision by the junta in early August to revoke a raft of military agreements with France, saying these had been signed with Niger’s “legitimate authorities”.