Niamey, Niger – Thousands of demonstrators took to the streets of Niger’s capital, Niamey, on Saturday, demanding the withdrawal of French troops from the country. This rally comes in response to the wishes of a junta that seized power in July and has called for France to remove its troops.
Protesters gathered near a French military base in Niamey, where French soldiers are stationed, answering the call of various civic organizations that oppose the French military presence in Niger. Banners held high by the demonstrators proclaimed a single message: “French army, leave our country.”
As the day progressed, the rally gained momentum, drawing in fresh participants, and a dense crowd congregated near the French military base on the outskirts of Niamey.
This demonstration follows a recent verbal clash between Niger’s military regime and France. On Friday, the regime accused Paris of “blatant interference” for supporting the country’s ousted president while protesters held a similar rally.
President Mohamed Bazoum, a French ally elected in 2021 with hopes of bringing stability to the troubled nation, was detained on July 26 by members of his own guard.
Tensions between Niger and France, the former colonial power and a key ally in the fight against jihadism, deteriorated rapidly after Paris continued to back Bazoum.
On August 3, the regime announced the cancellation of military agreements with France despite France’s assertion that they still hold legitimacy. These agreements encompass various timeframes, with one dating back to 2012 set to expire in a month, according to military leaders.
Additionally, the military rulers declared the “expulsion” of French ambassador Sylvain Itte and revoked his diplomatic immunity, citing his presence as a threat to public order. However, French President Emmanuel Macron praised Ambassador Itte’s work in Niger and noted that he remains in the country, disregarding the 48-hour deadline given for his departure.
Article 22 of the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations affirms the “inviolability” of embassy premises, and it states that agents of the host state “may not enter them, except with the consent of the head of the mission.”