“Go away”: in Niger, demonstrators again demand the departure of French soldiers

Several thousand people gathered again on Saturday in Niamey and Ouallam (south-west) to demand the departure of French forces from Nigera request from the military regime that came to power through a coup end of July, noted AFP journalists. Since the putsch, the demonstrations opposed to France are multiplying.

In Niamey, the rally was held near a Nigerien base housing French soldiers, at the call of several civil society coalitions hostile to the French military presence. ” French army, get away from us ! “, could we read in particular on the sign of a demonstrator.

The demonstrators who arrived on Saturday morning were joined by another procession in the afternoon to form a dense crowd on the “Escadrille” roundabout, one of the main places for this kind of gathering that has taken place in Niamey since the coup. of State of July 26.

Demonstrators in Niamey on September 2 carry a coffin covered with a French flag.
Demonstrators in Niamey on September 2 carry a coffin covered with a French flag. REUTERS/Mahamadou Hamidou

Another demonstration took place in Ouallam (south-west) in front of a military base, HQ of the Almahaou anti-jihadist operation, where Nigerien and French soldiers live together, according to images broadcast on national television.

“French soldiers, we have come to bring you a message to tell you that we no longer need you,” one of the protesters said into a megaphone.

1,500 French soldiers

Diplomatic tensions are at their height between the military regime in power and France, which does not recognize their legitimacy, while 1,500 French soldiers are stationed in Niger to participate in the anti-jihadist struggle within the framework of bilateral military agreements.

August 3, the generals who took power by a coup had denounced several of these agreements. These texts all contain different notices for their effective end, one of which, relating to a 2012 text, was one month, according to the military.

At the end of August, during a meeting in Niamey, Colonel Ibro Amadou, a member of the National Council for the Safeguarding of the Homeland (CNSP, perpetrators of the coup) declared that “the fight will only stop the day there will be no more French soldiers in Niger”.

Guest of LCI on Saturday, Nigerien Foreign Minister Houmi Maoudou believes that these demonstrations are “a choreography”. Citing the presence of Russian flags seen in the images, he believes that they are “sponsored, organized and bought”.

The French ambador still on the spot

Niger also withdrew diplomatic immunity and visa from French Ambador Sylvain Itté and demanded his “expulsion”according to an order from the Ministry of the Interior dated Thursday and an order from the High Court of Niamey on Friday, consulted by AFP.

According to this last document, these decisions are notably justified by France’s “unjustified hostility” towards Niger and the fact that the presence of Sylvain Itté on Nigerien territory presents “serious risks of disturbing public order”.

On Monday, French President Emmanuel Macron praised the work of the ambador and indicated that he was still stationed at the emby in Niamey.

VIDEO. Crisis in Niger: Macron salutes the work of the French ambador still in office in Niamey

According to Article 22 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, the premises of an emby are “inviolable” and agents of the state in which they are located are not permitted “to enter therein, except with the consent of the head of the mission”.

Thursday August 31, the President of Nigeria, Bola Tinubu, also at the head of the Community of West African States (ECOWAS), had suggested the implementation of a nine-month transition for the military in power. He also warned that the sanctions imposed on Niger by ECOWAS would not be alleviated without “positive adjustments” by the military in Niamey.

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