Anti-French sentiment has risen in Niger since its government was toppled in a July 26 coup. France has about 1,500 troops in the former colony.
Tens of thousands of protesters gathered in Nigerien capital, Niamey, to demand the withdrawal of French troops.
Anti-French sentiment has risen in Niger since its government was toppled in a July 26 coup.
Reuters news agency reporters said it was the biggest gathering since the coup.
The protesters gathered near a base housing French soldiers and carried banners saying “French army leave our country.”
“We are ready to sacrifice ourselves today, because we are proud,” demonstrator Yacouba Issoufou was cited by Reuters as saying. “They plundered our resources and we became aware. So they’re going to get out.”
In recent years, there have been a number of military coups in former French colonies in Central and West Africa. On Wednesday, a military junta overthrew Gabonese President Ali Bongo.
France has cordial relations with ousted President Mohamed Bazoum and has about 1,500 troops stationed in the West African country.
On Friday, French President Emmanuel Macron said he spoke to Bazoum every day and that “the decisions we will take, whatever they may be, will be based upon exchanges with Bazoum.”
The junta called Macron’s comments divisive and said they perpetrated France’s neo-colonial relationship with Niger. It also accused Paris of “blatant interference” in Niger’s affairs.
On Monday, Macron announced that Paris would ignore an ultimatum issued by the junta ordering the expulsion of France’s ambassador, Sylvian Itte. “Our policy is clear: we do not recognize the putschists,” he said at the time.
On August 3, the junta announced that it had dropped its military agreements with France.
sdi/sms (Reuters, AFP)
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Publish date : 2023-09-03 10:54:03