Thousands gather in Niger, demand withdrawal of French troops

Thousands gathered in Niger’s capital, Niamey, on Saturday to demand the withdrawal of French troops, a move advocated by the junta that seized power in June.

Protesters assembled near a base where French soldiers are stationed in response to a call by several civic organizations opposed to the French military presence in the West African nation.

They help up banners proclaiming “French army leave our country”.

Niger’s military regime launched a fresh verbal attack against France on Friday, accusing Paris of “blatant interference” by supporting the ousted president. Concurrently, protestors staged a similar demonstration near a French base located outside Niamey.

President Mohamed Bazoum, a French ally whose election in 2021 had raised hopes of stability in the troubled country, was detained on July 26 by members of his guard.

Relations with France, the country’s former colonial power and ally in its fight against militancy, rapidly deteriorated after Paris backed Bazoum.

On August 3, the regime declared the cancellation of military agreements with France, despite France having around 1,500 soldiers stationed in the country.

France has contested this move, citing concerns about its legitimacy.

The military rulers have additionally declared the immediate “expulsion” of French Ambassador Sylvain Itte and have withdrawn his diplomatic immunity, citing his presence as a threat to public order.

French President Emmanuel Macron praised Sylvain Itte’s work in Niger and noted that he was still in the country, even after being given a 48-hour deadline to depart Niger the previous Friday.

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