Huge protests in Niger demand French forces to leave

Tens of thousands of protesters gathered outside a French military base in Niger, demanding the withdrawal of its 1,500 soldiers. France has shown no intention of complying with this demand, following a coup that ousted the elected president. Outside the base, demonstrators symbolically slaughtered a goat adorned in French colors and carried coffins draped with French flags on Saturday, while Nigerien soldiers observed. Some protesters held signs urging France to leave.

“We are ready to sacrifice ourselves today because we are proud,” said demonstrator Yacouba Issoufou. “They plundered our resources, and we became aware. So they’re going to get out.”

They have exploited our resources, and we have become aware of it. So, they must leave.”

This protest marked the largest gathering since the coup on July 26, indicating continued support for the new military leadership.

France had cordial relations with overthrown President Mohamed Bazoum. President Emmanuel Macron said on Friday he spoke to the deposed Nigerien leader every day and “the decisions we will take, whatever they may be, will be based upon exchanges with Bazoum”.

Also Read: Cameroonian President Paul Biya implements major military changes following coup in Gabon

Anti-French sentiment escalated further when France disregarded a military order to recall its ambassador, Sylvain Itte, who now faces expulsion as per police instructions.

The July coup, one of eight in West and Central Africa since 2020, has drawn the attention of global powers concerned about the rise of military rule in the region. France, in particular, has been significantly affected, as its influence over its former colonies in West Africa has diminished in recent years due to increasing public resentment. French forces have been ousted from neighboring Mali and Burkina Faso following coups in those countries, reducing France’s role in the region’s collective efforts against armed groups.

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