The military coup in Niger has not yet succeeded, the French Government has insisted, while stating it is “illegitimate” and “deeply dangerous” for the region.
France has branded the apparent revolution as only an “attempt” to overthrow the country’s democratically elected government. The military takeover could still be undone, Paris says.
According to a report by Le Figaro, French officials have said that the Niger’s currently detained president Mohamed Bazoum is alive and “in good health”.
They are now calling on the military in control of Niger to release him immediately and had back the reins of power.
“This coup d’etat is perfectly illegitimate and deeply dangerous for Nigeriens, for Niger, and for the whole region,” French President Emmanuel Macron told journalists.
“[Bazoum] is in good health and we not only want him to be released but free him and his family in complete safety as a prerequisite for the return to constitutional order,” he added.
French foreign minister Catherine Colonna has spoken of “exit possibilities” regarding the coup that would allow Niger to return to democracy.
The French Government’s insistence that the Niger coup may unravel comes despite growing support there for the army revolt, with members of the military and general public coming out in support of the now-ruling junta.
Hundreds of protesters gathered in front of the national parliament in the capital Niamey, seeking Russian support and demanding that France “leave their country alone”.
They waved Niger and Russian flags while singing “Long live Russia”. Others were seen holding up signs carrying messages such as, “Down with France”.
#Niger: plusieurs centaines de personnes se sont rassemblées devant l’Assemblée Nationale à Niamey pour manifester leur soutien aux putschistes.
Ils demandent l’intervention de la Russie et le départ des troupes françaises au Niger. pic.twitter.com/ihWgQc2ARo
— Lespiaut Anne-Fleur (@annefleurjo) July 27, 2023
On July 27, supporters of the coup rampaged through the capital city, setting fire to the headquarters of the governing party.
One protester said: “Politicians are fake. The Nigeriens and the army have succeeded because here, simply put, the vast majority of politicians who are leaving were not chosen by the people.”
The Niger army’s official Twitter account issued a statement declaring its support for the coup, claiming it was to avoid a violent conflict that could lead to a “bloodbath”.
If the coup’s success is established beyond doubt, it will mark a major loss for Western powers in West Africa, with Niger’s democratically elected government being seen as one of the US and France’s few allies in the African Sahel region.
Ulf Laessing, head of the Sahel programme at the Konrad Adenauer Foundation – a think-tank linked to Germany’s Christian Democratic Union party – has judged that the coup could represent a “nightmare scenario for Western powers”.
Things look less dire regarding related domestic European issues, with energy expert Samuele Furfari telling Brussels Signal that the EU’s current reliance on Nigerien uranium for its nuclear fleet will probably not result in any long-term electricity-supply issues.