France will respond “immediately and intractably” in the event of an attack, warns the Elysée

2023-07-30 13:36:00

[Article mis à jour dimanche 30 juillet à 17h45]

The pressure increases on the putschists in Niger who hold the elected president Mohamed Bazoum: after the EU, France decided on Saturday to suspend its aid and the African Union (AU) gave them an ultimatum of 15 days to restore constitutional order.

On Wednesday evening, putschist soldiers announced on national television that they had overthrown the democratically elected president Mohamed Bazoum, in power since 2021.

In this speech, Colonel-Major Amadou Abdramane announced the suspension of institutions and the closing of the country’s borders, justifying the coup d’etat by “the continued deterioration of the security situation” au Niger.

Following these events, the leaders of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), meeting on Sunday in Abuja, gave a one-week ultimatum to the putschists in Niger to restore constitutional order, claiming not to exclude a ” use of force”.

Also, thehe West African countries have ordered an economic blockade of Niger, deciding to suspend “ immediate ” of “ all commercial and financial transactions” with that country, and set a one-week ultimatum for the junta to restore constitutional order, saying it did not rule out a “use of force”.

On Sunday, France also reacted with the voice of Emmanuel Macron who “will not tolerate any attack against France and its interests” in Niger and Paris will respond “immediately and intractably”the Elysée announced on Sunday as thousands of people demonstrated in front of the French embassy in Niamey in support of the military putschists.

“Anyone attacking French nationals, the army, diplomats and rights of way would see France respond immediately and intractably. The President of the Republic will not tolerate any attack against France and its interests.said the Elysée.

500 to 600 French nationals are currently in Niger, according to the Quai d’Orsay. Among the French companies present, Orano (formerly Areva), specializing in the nuclear fuel cycle, which had been operating two uranium mines there for 50 years in northern Niger, Somaïr (Aïr mining company) and Akokan mining company ( Cominak): the latter closed in 2021, but is the subject of a vast redevelopment project.

1,500 French soldiers are also present in the country.

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“France also supports all regional initiatives” aiming to “the restoration of the constitutional order” and the return of President-elect Mohamed Bazoum, added the French presidency.

The French Ministry of Foreign Affairs has also condemned “any violence against diplomatic premises, the security of which is the responsibility of the host State”.

Thousands of people demonstrated in front of the French embassy in Niamey before being dispersed by tear gas canisters.

Some demonstrators wanted to enter the building, others tore down the plaque displaying “French Embassy in Niger”, before trampling it on the tarmac and replacing it with Russian and Nigerien flags.

The president kidnapped for five days

The demonstration began with a march towards the National Assembly, the crowd waving Russian and Nigerian flags. The M62 civil movement, which had already protested against the French army’s Barkhane operation in the Sahel and the Sahara, called for demonstrations.

Ousted President Mohamed Bazoum, elected in 2021, begins his fifth day sequestered in his private residence at the presidential palace by his close guard, whose leader, General Abdourahamane Tiani, chairs the junta of the National Council for the Safeguarding 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 since 2020.

(With AFP)