France supports ECOWAS in resolving coup in Niger: FM

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France supports “with firmness and determination” the efforts of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in finding a solution to the coup in Niger, the French foreign ministry said in a press release on Saturday.

   During a meeting with visiting Nigerien Prime Minister Ouhoumoudou Mahamadou, French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna reaffirmed France’s full support for Nigerien President Mohamed Bazoum and his government, saying they are the only legitimate authorities in Niger.

   France solemnly urged those responsible for the coup to release President Bazoum and the members of his government, and to restore constitutional and democratic order immediately, the French foreign ministry said.

   Speaking to French news channel BFMTV on Tuesday, Colonna said that France will not carry out a military intervention in Niger.

   On July 26, Niger’s Defense and Security Forces said that soldiers in the country had overthrown Bazoum, just hours after the president was allegedly held hostage.

   Two days later, General Abdourahamane Tchiani, former leader of Niger’s presidential guard, was named “president of the National Council for the Safeguard of the Homeland.” He subsequently signed an order to suspend the Constitution and dissolve the government, empowering the Council to exercise all legislative and executive authorities.

   The ECOWAS has agreed to impose sanctions on Niger’s military leaders involved in the coup and claimed to restore order in Niger by force.

   Bazoum assumed office in 2021 after winning the elections in Niger. Since gaining independence from France in 1960, Niger has witnessed four coups.  

In recent years, there has been a growing wave of anti-French sentiment in West Africa.

There are a number of factors that have contributed to this sentiment, according to Institut Montaigne, including:

  • France’s perceived neocolonial influence in West Africa. France has a long history of colonial involvement in West Africa, and many West Africans believe that France continues to exert undue influence over the region. This is particularly true in former French colonies, such as Mali and Burkina Faso.
  • France’s military intervention in Mali. In 2013, France intervened militarily in Mali to help the government fight a jihadist insurgency. However, the intervention has been controversial, with some West Africans criticizing France for being too heavy-handed and for not doing enough to support local forces.
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