About 20,000 Nigeriens gathered Saturday in the capital, Niamey, to support the putschists, the day after the French ambassador was given 48 hours to leave the country.
Military supporters gathered at the Seni Konchi stadium, the largest in the country, waving the flags of Niger, Algeria and Russia in the stands.
“We have the right to choose the partners we want, and France should respect that choice,” said Ramatou Ibrahim Boubacar, a model wearing a scarf in the colors of the Niger flag.
And she considered that “sixty years ago we were never independent, we have become so since the coup” that took place on July 26 and overthrew the elected president, Mohamed Bazoum.
“Therefore, we support the National Council for the Protection of the Homeland 100 percent,” she added.
The military council, led by General Abd al-Rahman Tianyi, accused France, the former colonial power, of wanting to intervene militarily to restore Bazum to power.
Addressing the crowd, junta member Colonel Ebro Amadou said that “the struggle will not stop until the day there will be no more French soldiers in Niger.”
He added, “You are the ones who will expel them,” adding, “To expel them, do not go to their embassy (…) After everyone returns to their homes, they will end up leaving.”
This new gathering was organized in support of the National Council for the Protection of the Fatherland, the day after its decision to expel the French ambassador to Niger, Sylvain Etty, for not responding to an “invitation” from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for an “interview” in addition to “other actions of the French government that are contrary to the interests of Niger.”
The French Ministry of Foreign Affairs responded to the decision, saying that “the coup plotters do not have the capacity to submit this request, and the ambassador’s approval comes only from the elected legitimate Nigerian authorities.”
After the coup, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) decided to impose severe economic and financial sanctions on Niger and suspend its membership in the regional organization. It also threatened to intervene militarily in order to restore Mohamed Bazoum to his post.