Several thousand demonstrators gathered in Niger’s capital, Niamey, to demand the departure of French military troops from the country. They also want an end to other foreign interference, after last week’s coup that has brought a military junta to power.
However West African leaders meeting in an extraordinary summit on Niger have threatened military action against the junta if it doesn’t reinstate President Mohamed Bazoum, who is being held captive.
“In the event, the authority demands are not met within one week. Take all measures necessary to restore constitutional ordering in the Republic of Niger. Such measures may include the use of force,” said Dr. Omar Alieu, President of ECOWAS.
Former colonial ruler France and the European Union have suspended security cooperation and financial aid to Niger following the coup, while the United States warned that its aid could also be at stake.
In a diplomatic communique, Paris has said It supports the economic and financial sanctions decided in support of these demands and for an end to the unacceptable violence against its embassy seen on Sunday.
But the sentiment on the streets is decidedly anti-west prompting concerns that Niger, could pivot towards Russia.
In Niamey, some of the protesters outside the French embassy chanted “Long live Russia”, “Long live Putin” and “Down with France”.
Neighboring Mali and Burkina Faso which have both experience army takeovers both moved closer to Russia after their own coups.