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Niger protesters vow to storm French base if troops do not leave within a week

Nigerien police officers stand guard outside the Niger and French airbases in Niamey as supporters of Niger's National Council for the Safeguard of the Homeland (CNSP) gather on August 27, 2023. (Photo by AFP)

Thousands of protesters in Niger have staged a rally near a French military base in the capital Niamey to voice their support for the military government and demand the immediate withdrawal of French troops from the West African country.

The demonstrators gathered near the French military base in the capital on Sunday, as they waved Nigerien flags and carried placards with anti-French slogans.

“We don’t want the French army in Niger,” said one demonstrator, “Let the French leave.”

“The French say that Niger is a poor country, but when we tell them to go home, they refuse,” another protester said.

The protesters also chanted slogans against the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), which has imposed economic sanctions on Niger and has threatened military action to return the former president to power.

The demonstrators threatened to storm the French military base if the troops did not leave the country within a week.

They also called for the removal of French ambassador, Sylvain Itte, after the diplomat was given a 48-hour ultimatum to leave the country.

On Friday, the country’s foreign minister announced that the French ambassador had 48 hours to leave, saying he had refused to meet with the new rulers and citing the French government’s actions that were “contrary to the interests of Niger.”

Niger’s army generals overthrew the country’s Paris-allied President Mohamed Bazoum on July 26. Ever since Nigerians have accused France of seeking to intervene militarily in the West African country to reinstate Bazoum.

The military takeover in Niger came amid a growing wave of anti-French sentiment, with the people of Niger accusing the European country of interfering in their affairs.

Since the takeover, Nigerians have on several occasions come out in force to display support for the military leaders and reject former Western-backed authorities.

Earlier this month, thousands of anti-West protesters took to the streets to protest against plans by West African nations to deploy a military force to the country.

The protesters surrounded the French military base in Niger, protesting against years of military intervention by the European country in the West African nation.

France was a colonial power in West Africa until 1960. Since independence, the European country has maintained trade relations and a military presence in the region. 

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