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Niger coup: Junta severs military ties with France, ousted 'hostage' leader seeks US intervention

“All aggression or attempt at aggression against the state of Niger will see an immediate response and without warning," said Colonel Maj. Amadou Abdramane, a spokesperson for the coup leaders.

Edited By: Aveek Banerjee Niamey (Niger) Updated on: August 04, 2023 17:59 IST
France had deployed 1,500 military troops in Niger
Image Source : AP France had deployed 1,500 military troops in Niger

NIger coup: The Nigerien junta, which ousted President Mohamed Bazoum in a coup last week, on Thursday announced that it severing military ties with former coloniser France and expelled many of the previous government's key ambassadors. The move has been seen as further damaging Niger's relations with the West.

The spokesperson for Niger's coup leader, Colonel Maj. Amadou Abdramane announced that the country will end functions for ambassadors to France, the United States, Togo and neighbouring Nigeria. “All aggression or attempt at aggression against the state of Niger will see an immediate response and without warning," he said.

Notably, Niger was the last Western ally in the West African region of Sahel, which has become a global centre for terrorism by Islamic extremist groups.

France had deployed at least 1,500 military personnel in the country as part of counter-terrorism operations in the wake of anti-French sentiments elsewhere in the region. The US also has 1,100 personnel, including a key drone base, in Niger.

I am a hostage, says ousted leader Bazoum  

Meanwhile, in an opinion piece, ousted President Bazoum urged the US and the international community to help against the coup leaders. "I write this as a hostage," he said.

According to Bazoum, extremist groups will take advantage of the instability in Niger after the country loses aid from foreign partners, adding that the security situation was improving under his tenure before the coup. 

He also warned of growing Russian influence by the presence of the Wagner mercenary group, which already operates in nearby countries. If the coup succeeds, it would have "devastating consequences for our country, our region and the entire world", Bazoum added.

"In our hour of need, I call on the US government and the entire international community to help us restore our constitutional order... The Nigerien people will never forget your support at this pivotal moment in our history," he wrote.

Earlier, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken had spoken to Bazoum over the phone, asserting that America was committed to restoring the democratically elected government in Niger.

ECOWAS' threat of force

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), a 15-member political and economic bloc in the West African region, had demanded coup leaders to release and reinstate Bazoum within a week or face possible force. A delegation of the ECOWAS arrived for talks on Thursday, but were unable to meet the coup leader Gen. Abdourahmane Tchiani or go to the capital Niamey.

The ECOWAS has also suspended commercial and financial transactions between its member states and Niger, while freezing Nigerien assets in regional central banks. This bears disastrous results for Niger, which is one of the poorest countries in the world and heavily relies on foreign aid.

However, ECOWAS' efforts in preventing coups have been unsuccessful - owing to five coups in three years, two each in Mali and Burkina Faso. Both these countries have expressed support for the military coup in Niger, along with Guinea.

(with inputs from AP)

ALSO READ | EXPLAINED | Why Niger citizens are protesting against France and why countries are supporting the coup?

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