Nigeriens rally in Niamey in support of military leadership

Nigeriens rally in Niamey in support of military leadership

TEHRAN, Aug. 27 (MNA) – Tens of thousands of supporters of Niger's military government have rallied in capital Niamey to declare their opposition to foreign intervention in the country, including by its former colonial power France.

The Saturday rally, which came after a major anti-France protest a day before, took place at the country's largest stadium, Seyni Kountche, which can accommodate 30,000 people.

"We have the right to choose the partners we want," Ramatou Ibrahim Boubacar, one of the protesters who was wearing Nigerien flags from head to toe, told AFP, adding, "France must respect this choice."

"For sixty years, we have never been independent, only since the day of the coup d'etat," she said.

Clad in Nigerien flags, the participants in the rally voiced support for the National Council for the Safeguard of the Homeland (CNSP), which seized power after overthrowing Western-backed President Mohamed Bazoum's government on July 26.

"The fight will not stop until the day there are no longer any French soldiers in Niger," CNSP member Colonel Obro Amadou told the crowd at the stadium, adding, "It's you who are going to drive them out."

The CNSP, which is led by General Abdourahamane Tiani, has accused France of seeking to intervene militarily in the West African country to reinstate Bazoum.

On July 31, the country's military rulers took aim at Paris, saying, "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 authorization."

Despite denying any intention to invade Niger, Paris has vowed to resort to "immediate and uncompromising" action if French citizens or interests were targeted.

Since the CNSP took over the power, Nigerians have on several occasions come out in force to display support for the military leaders and reject former Western-backed authorities.

On Friday, hundreds of protesters in Niger held a demonstration in front of the French military base in the capital Niamey, threatening to storm the facility if French troops did not leave the country within a week.

Also on Friday, the country's foreign minister announced that French ambassador, Sylvain Itte, had 48 hours to leave, saying he had refused to meet with the new rulers and citing the French government's actions that were "contrary to the interests of Niger."

"The French ambassador, instead of leaving, thinks this is the land of his parents," said Idrissa Halidou, a CNSP member, who was attending Saturday's rally.

"We are people of war, [and] we are ready to fight against" the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), he added.

ECOWAS, West Africa's main regional bloc, which is also accused by Niger's military leaders of being in cahoots with Paris, has threatened to use force to remove the country's military government if it refrains from handing the power back to Bazoum.


Source: Mehr News