New military rulers accuse France of preparing for war in Niger
Since the overthrow in Niger of its President, Mohamed Bazoum, by the military on 26th July 2023, the ousters demands for France to remove it’s Ambassador and the 1,500 currently stationed French troops from Niger’s soil, have been met by a stubborn resistance from the French government. President Macron has maintained that France does not recognise the legitimacy of the ousters and therefore their legality of their requests.
Niger's military spokesperson accuses France of readying for war, live on TV
On Sunday 10th September, Niger’s new interim government issued a statement live on television through their spokesperson, Colonel Major Amadou Abdramane, declaring their disquiet at the fact that instead of leaving the area, France has deployed additional troops and munitions in Niger’s neighboring countries, which they viewed as preparation for an invasion in collaboration with the ECOWAS coalition.
In the statement read out on national television, Colonel Major Amadou Abdramane, said:
‘France continues to deploy its forces in several ECOWAS countries as part of preparations for an aggression against Niger…Military cargo aircraft have enabled large quantities of war material and equipment to be unloaded in Senegal, Cote d’Ivoire and Benin, to name but a few’
French President Macron remains stubbornly defiant
Speaking after the G20 summit in Delhi at a press conference, the French President Macron, responded to the Niger announcement by saying:
‘If we redeploy anything, I will only do it at the request of President Bazoum and in coordination with him. Not with officials who today are taking a president hostage’
The French President reiterated the French government’s position that it regards Mohamed Bazoum, as the only legitimate head of state in Niger and that it would not take instructions from the ousters. This appears to be in contradiction to statements made earlier in the week on Monday by a French Ministry of Defence spokesperson, who confirmed that France was in talks with Niger, in respect of a ‘rapid withdrawal’ of French troops from the region.
In the last few hours and likely in response to the latest deployments of French troops, it has been reported that the new military rulers in Niger have begun positioning their military forces on the borders of Benin. There have also been reports that Birkina Faso has sent a sizeable contingent of armed forces to bolster Niger’s military position.
The Niger capital, Niamey, continues to witness thousands of demonstrators gathering outside the French military base, chanting for the removal of the soldiers housed there.