On Saturday, thousands of people rallied in Niger’s capital, Niamey, demanding France withdraw its ambassador and troops from the West African country.
The protesters gathered near a military base housing French soldiers after a call by several civic organizations hostile to the French military presence. They held banners proclaiming, “French army, leave our country.”
The rally comes after Niger’s military government, which seized power in a coup on July 26, accused France of “interference” in the country’s affairs.
The junta has also demanded that France’s ambassador, Sylvain Itte, leave the country . It has refused to comply with the demand, and France has said it will not withdraw its ambassador.
The standoff between Niger’s military government and France is the latest in a series of tensions between the two countries. In recent years, France has been criticized for handling the fight against terrorism in the Sahel region, where Niger is located.
The protesters in Niamey on Saturday expressed frustration with France’s continued presence in the country.
“We want all military bases to leave our country,” said protester Doubou-Kambou Hamidou. “They don’t care to fight terrorism.”
The international community is closely watching the situation in Niger. The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has threatened to intervene militarily if diplomacy fails to restore the country’s democratically elected government.
France is also a member of ECOWAS, and it is unclear how the country will respond if ECOWAS decides to intervene militarily in Niger.
The standoff between Niger’s military government and France is a complex issue with no easy solutions. It is a test of wills between two countries with different interests in the Sahel region.
The outcome of the standoff will have a significant impact on the future of Niger and the fight against terrorism in the region.