A protester holds a sign that reads ‘Macron, your soldiers on our territory will become prisoners for attempting to destabilise our country’ in Niamey, Niger, 30 July 2023. EFE/EPA/ISSIFOU DJIBO
Paris, Aug 1 (EFE).- France will start evacuating French nationals from Niger on Tuesday after the president was removed by a military junta, the French Foreign Ministry has confirmed.
French authorities added that they were working to evacuate nationals from other European nations as well.
“Given the situation in Niamey, the violence that took place against our embassy the day before yesterday, and the closure of airspace which leaves our compatriots without the possibility of leaving the country by their own means, France is preparing the evacuation of its nationals and European citizens who wish to leave the country. The evacuation will begin today,” a statement from the French Foreign Ministry read.
Last Wednesday a military junta overthrew President Mohamed Bazoum, who has been held by members of the army since then.
Gen Abdourahmane Tchiani on Friday declared himself the leader of the transitional government saying the policies of the deposed president in the realms of security, economy and social issues were “incoherent and ineffective”.
In an interview broadcast Monday night, French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna reiterated her country’s calls for the reinstatement of ousted Bazoum and denied accusations by Niger’s coup leaders that France was preparing a military intervention.
Colonna added that it was possible Russia was taking advantage of the crisis, but avoided blaming Moscow directly for the coup and attributed it to “an opportunistic move” by a high-ranking military officer.
France, Niamey’s former colonial ruler, has some 1,500 military personnel deployed in Niger as part of a regional counter-terrorism operation.
Niger is also a key uranium provider to France which relied on imports for its nuclear power plants.
On Sunday, several hundred people gathered in front of the French embassy in the capital of Niger where they torched French flags and chanted anti-European slogans.
French President Emmanuel Macron warned of a “swift and uncompromising response” to any attacks on French interests in Niger.
On Monday, the Elysee Palace reported that Macron had held talks with Bazoum and his predecessor, who is acting as a mediator in the conflict.
The French president also reached out to leaders of other West African nations to discuss the unfolding situation in Niger.EFE