Thousands of people demonstrated in Niger in support of last month’s coup, Sunday. The action was hours before the deadline given for the French ambassador to leave the country.
Demonstrators gathered near a French military base in the capital Niamey, some waving Niger or Russian flags, while others carried banners demanding the departure of French troops.
The former colonial nation, France, still has 1,500 troops based in Niger. They assisted ousted President Mohamed Bazoum in fighting the jihadist forces active there, before army officers overthrew him in a coup on July 26.
The demonstrations started at dawn in the quarter neighborhood near Niamey airport, at the Niger airbase where French troops are stationed. The action was because the demonstrators responded to calls from organizations that support the country’s new government.
“We don’t want French military forces in Niger,” said one demonstrator, Abou Kountche. “Let the French go.” “The French say Niger is a poor country, but when we ask them to go home they refuse,” said restaurateur Adama Assane.
On Friday, Niger’s Foreign Ministry announced the French ambassador, Sylvain Itte, had 48 hours to leave. The reason is that he refused to meet with the new ruler and referred to the actions of the French government which were contrary to the interests of Niger.
Paris rejected the demands and said the rebels did not have the authority to make these requests. France insisted the Bazoum government they had overthrown remained the legitimate authority.
On Saturday, some 20,000 people gathered at the Senyi Kountche stadium to support the country’s new military rulers and demand the withdrawal of French troops.