Niger’s Military Junta Accuses France Of Plotting Military Intervention
Regional Tensions Escalate as Niger's Military Junta Accuses France of Plotting Military Intervention to Reinstate Deposed President
In a highly charged development, Niger’s new military junta has pointed fingers at its former colonial ruler, France, accusing the nation of planning a “military intervention” to reinstall the deposed President Mohamed Bazoum.
The junta, which has kept President Bazoum confined to the presidential palace since the coup, has previously issued warnings against foreign attempts to extract him, asserting that such actions would lead to bloodshed and chaos.
The remarks concerning the alleged French involvement were made on state television by army Colonel Amadou Abdramane, one of the coup plotters. He stated that the authorization for intervention was purportedly signed by Niger’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Hassoumi Massoudou, acting as the prime minister.
Although France has publicly condemned the coup and advocated for President Bazoum’s reinstatement, it has not declared any intention to intervene militarily.
The situation in Niger follows a series of military takeovers in neighboring Mali and Burkina Faso within the past two years, all of which have been accompanied by a surge of anti-French sentiment.
For a decade, France has maintained a military presence in the region, assisting in the fight against Islamist insurgency. However, some locals have voiced their desire for the former colonial power to cease intervening in their affairs.
Niger’s strategic importance as a key ally in Western campaigns against insurgents linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State in the Sahel has raised concerns that the coup could lead to an increase in Russian influence in the region and further exacerbate the insurgency.
In a display of frustration and anger towards France, supporters of the junta took to the streets and burned French flags while also attacking the French embassy in Niamey, the capital of Niger, on Sunday. The incident led to the deployment of tear gas by the police. In a separate statement, the junta accused French forces of opening fire on protesters, resulting in six injuries.
In response to the rising tensions, French President Emmanuel Macron issued a stern warning, stating that any attacks on French interests in Niger would be met with a “swift and uncompromising response.”
Meanwhile, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has implemented sanctions against Niger and has threatened to authorize the use of force if the coup leaders fail to reinstate President Bazoum within a week.
Chadian President Mahamat Idriss Deby, who himself seized power in Chad in 2021 following the death of his father, the former long-ruling president Idriss Deby, flew to Niger over the weekend in an attempt to mediate the crisis. President Deby shared images on social media showing his meetings with both President Bazoum and coup leader Abdourahamane Tiani, whom the junta has declared as the head of state. The discussions aimed to explore peaceful solutions to the ongoing crisis.
The situation in Niger remains highly precarious, with regional and international actors closely monitoring developments to avert further escalation and instability in the Sahel region.