The demonstrators gathered outside a French military base, demanding the ambassador and about 1,500 soldiers to leave.
Huge demonstrations took place outside a French military base in Niamey, the capital of Niger, as pressure mounted on the French ambassador and his soldiers to leave the country.
Niger’s military government, which seized power on July 26, has accused French President Emmanuel Macron of using divisive rhetoric in his comments about the coup and seeking to solidify France’s neocolonial relationship with its former colony.
France’s ambassador, Sylvain Etty, remained in Niger despite a 48-hour deadline to leave the country more than a week ago, a decision Macron said he “applauds”.
Al Jazeera’s Ahmed Idriss, from Niamey, said the protesters – expressing frustration with the continued French presence in the country – are starting to take matters into their own hands.
According to the security personnel, the protest was scheduled to start at around 3 pm (14:00 GMT), but thousands of protesters had already gathered by 10 am (09:00 GMT), surprising the police and security forces.
Idris said the protests that took place over the past few days were “relatively calm and orderly”. But earlier on Saturday, demonstrators were seen “breaking barriers set up by the security forces, the police and the army,” and approaching the army base, while “some are trying to reach by force.”
Since then, the army has reinforced the area around the French base, which houses about 1,500 French soldiers, and warned against entering by force and the repercussions that would follow.
“I speak every day with President Bazoum”: Macron
The military regime in Niger has accused Paris of “blatant interference” by supporting the country’s ousted president, Mohamed Bazoum.
Army spokesman Colonel Amadou Abderrahmane said in a statement broadcast on national television that Macron’s statements in support of Bazoum “constitute further blatant interference in Niger’s internal affairs.”
Macron said on Friday that he spoke daily with Bazoum after he was ousted from power in the coup.
“I speak every day with President Bazoum. We support him. We do not recognize those who carried out the coup. “The decisions we will take, whatever they are, will be based on the correspondence with Bazoum,” Macron said.
The Sahel country is also embroiled in a confrontation with the West African bloc (ECOWAS), which has threatened to intervene militarily if diplomatic pressure to restore Bazoum to his post fails.
“I call on all countries in the region to adopt a responsible policy,” Macron said on Monday.
He said that France supports [ECOWAS’s] diplomatic action, and when you so decide, [its] He said the military action, describing it as a “partnership approach”.
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