France denies plotting to intervene militarily in Niger

AFP , Monday 31 Jul 2023

France's foreign minister on Monday denied accusations from Niger's new junta that Paris is plotting to intervene militarily in Niger.

 Catherine Colonna
French Foreign and European Affairs Minister Catherine Colonna speaks during a press conference held with her German counterpart in Lauterbourg, eastern France, on July 21, 2023. AFP


The new junta in Niamey had earlier in the day charged that France was preparing to make a move.

"In its search for ways and means to intervene militarily in Niger, France with the complicity of some Nigeriens held a meeting with the chief of staff of the Nigerien National Guard to obtain the necessary political and military authorisation," they said on national TV

"It's wrong," Catherine Colonna told BFM news channel of the allegations, adding it was still "possible" to restore ousted President Mohamed Bazoum to power.

"And it's necessary because this destabilisation is perilous for Niger and its neighbours," Colonna said.

Bazoum, a western ally whose election just over two years ago was a watershed in Niger's troubled history, was toppled on July 26 by the elite Presidential Guard.

Guards chief General Abdourahamane Tiani declared himself leader of the Sahel nation, but his claim has been shunned internationally and the West African bloc ECOWAS has given him a week to hand back power.

French President Emmanuel Macron vowed Sunday "immediate and uncompromising" action if French citizens or interests were attacked after thousands rallied outside the French embassy in Niamey.

Some tried to enter the compound but were dispersed by tear gas.

Colonna said the demonstration had been "organised, not spontaneous, violent, extremely dangerous, with Molotov cocktails, Russian flags appeared, anti-French slogans (that were) an exact copy of what you can hear elsewhere".

Macron has spoken to Bazoum several times as well as to regional leaders, the presidential palace said.

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