Protesters vandalised the French embassy in Niamey after a military junta moved to seize power in the aid- and security-dependent West African nation.
Emmanuel Macron “will not tolerate any attack against France and its interests” in Niger and Paris will retaliate “immediately and uncompromisingly”, the French government said on Sunday, as thousands demonstrated outside the French embassy in Niamey in support of an ongoing military coup.
“Anyone attacking French nationals, the army, diplomats or French bases would see France retaliate immediately and intractably,” the Elysée Palace warned in a statement. “The President of the Republic will not tolerate any attack against France and its interests.”
According to the Quai d’Orsay, 500 to 600 French nationals are currently in Niger.
“France also supports all regional initiatives aimed at “restoring constitutional order” and the return of the elected president Mohamed Bazoum, the palace added.
Storming the embassy
The French Ministry of Foreign Affairs also condemned “any violence against diplomatic compounds, the security of which is the responsibility of the host state”.
France is Niger’s key development and security ally, and currently has 1,500 soldiers there. But following the coup, it announced on Saturday that it was suspending its aid to the country.
Thousands of people have demonstrated outside the French embassy in Niamey, where they were ultimately dispersed with tear gas.
Some tried to enter the building, while others tore down the plaque reading “French Embassy in Niger” before trampling it on the tarmac and replacing it with Russian and Nigerien flags.
The protest was convened by the civil movement M62, which objects to the French army’s Barkhane operation in the Sahel and Sahara.
The countries of West Africa are meeting this Sunday in Abuja for an “extraordinary summit” to assess the situation following the military coup, which is likely to result in sanctions as the junta sees it as a threat of “imminent military intervention”.
The deposed president, Mohamed Bazoum, who is due to be elected in 2021, is entering his fifth day sequestered in his private residence at the presidential palace by his bodyguard, whose chief, General Abdourahamane Tiani, presides over the junta of the National Council for the Safeguard of the Homeland (CNSP).
After Mali and Burkina Faso, Niger, plagued by attacks from groups linked to the Islamic State and al-Qaeda, is the third country in the region to suffer a coup d’état since 2020.
Source : Euronews