Thousands of protesters gathered outside the French embassy in Niamey on Sunday, with some insisting on entering, during a rally in support of the military coup leaders who overthrew elected President Mohamed Bazoum in Niger. French President Emmanuel Macron has made it clear that he “will not tolerate any attack against France and its interests”.
Thousands of people demonstrated outside the French embassy in Niamey on Sunday, July 30, before being dispersed by tear gas grenades, as witnessed by an AFP journalist, during a rally in support of the military coup leaders who overthrew elected President Mohamed Bazoum in Niger.
Prior to the tear gas firing, a few soldiers had intervened in front of the embassy to calm the protesters. Some insisted on entering the building, while others tore off the plaque displaying “Embassy of France in Niger” and trampled it on the asphalt, replacing it with Russian and Nigerien flags.
The French president, Emmanuel Macron, will not tolerate any attack against France and its interests, said the Elysee on Sunday. “Anyone who attacks French nationals, the army, diplomats and French premises will face an immediate and uncompromising response from France,” said the Elysee, while also recalling “the friendship between the Nigerien and French peoples and the special role of France in the fight against terrorism and for the economic and social development of Niger”.
Emmanuel Macron emphasized that “France has firmly condemned the illegitimate military coup and demanded the restoration of constitutional order and President Bazoum,” and that it “also supports all regional initiatives in this direction.” “The President has been able to speak again with Presidents Bazoum and Issoufou in recent hours, both of whom have clearly condemned the coup and called on the population to remain calm,” the Elysee also stated.
The French Ministry of Foreign Affairs had earlier condemned “any violence against diplomatic premises whose security is the responsibility of the host state.” “Nigerien forces have an obligation to ensure the security of our diplomatic and consular premises under the Vienna Conventions,” recalls the Quai d’Orsay, which “urgently calls on them to fulfill this obligation imposed on them by international law.”
France, an ally of Niger in the fight against jihadism and development, with 1,500 soldiers stationed there, announced on Saturday that it was suspending its aid.
In front of the French embassy in Niamey, a soldier standing on a pickup truck greeted the crowd chanting “Russia, Russia, Russia!” “Long live the Nigerien army!” and “Tiani, Tiani, Tiani!”, the name of the now “President of the National Council for the Safeguard of the Nation,” the ruling junta in Niger. The demonstrations had been prohibited by the junta.
Some people headed towards the US embassy, with the US Secretary of State assuring the ousted president of the “unwavering support” of Washington.
The protest began with a march towards the National Assembly, with the crowd waving Russian and Nigerien flags.
The civil movement M62, which had already protested against the French military operation Barkhane in the Sahel and Sahara, called for the demonstration.
Two pro-coup marches took place in Niamey and Dosso (about a hundred kilometers southeast of the capital) on Thursday, the first of which was marked by incidents, before the junta called “on the population to remain calm” and banned demonstrations.