Thousands of coup backers converge near French base in Niger

Thousands of backers of Niger’s coup leaders congregated near a French military base on the outskirts of the capital Niamey on Friday, as observed by local journalists.

Protesters chanted “France out, ECOWAS out,” referring to the West African bloc that sanctioned the deployment of a “standby force to restore constitutional order” in Niger on Thursday.

“We are going to make the French leave! ECOWAS isn’t independent, it’s being manipulated by France, there’s outside influence,” said one demonstrator, Aziz Rabeh Ali, a member of a students’ union.

Niger’s democratically elected president, Mohamed Bazoum, was overthrown on July 26 by individuals from his own guard.

The action has garnered condemnation from neighboring West African nations, the United Nations, and Western countries, including France, the former colonial authority and a staunch ally of Bazoum.

Following a confrontational demonstration outside the French embassy on July 30, France arranged for the voluntary repatriation of its citizens.

France has deployed approximately 1,500 military personnel in Niger, dispatched to assist the nation in its ongoing battle against a brutal militant insurgency that has spanned eight years.

A significant number of these troops are stationed at the air base near Niamey, which operates in collaboration with Niger’s own armed forces.

In the previous year, France withdrew its troops from neighboring Mali and Burkina Faso, both of which are engaged in combatting militants, due to conflicts with military juntas that had removed elected leaders.

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