The military junta which took power in Niger warned on July 31 that France might militarily intervene with authorization from the ousted government’s foreign minister to restore Mohamed Bazoum to the presidency.
Thousands have mobilized to the streets to welcome the military takeover, sloganeering against their former colonizer—“Down with France,” “Foreign bases out.” Protesters reportedly tore out the plaque on the French embassy in the capital Niamey and torched its door on Sunday, July 30.
Imposing a no-fly zone and freezing Niger’s assets in its central and commercial banks, the 15-member Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) said on July 30 that it will “take all measures necessary,” including “the use of force,” to restore Mohamed Bazoum to the presidency.
Bazoum was taken captive and removed from office on July 26 in a coup led by the head of the presidential guard, General Abdourahmane Tchiani.
After taking office in April 2021, Bazoum instituted an internet shutdown for 10 days while the security forces cracked down on protests and arrested hundreds, amid accusations of irregularities.
In November of that year, militant mass demonstrations tried to stop the movement of a French army convoy through the country from Ivory Coast to Mali. French soldiers and the Nigerien gendarmes escorting their convoy fired shots and tear gas, killing two Nigeriens and wounding 18.
Impervious to popular sentiment against France in Niger and other former colonies in West Africa, the democratically elected Bazoum, touted by the BBC as “a key Western ally,” welcomed into Niger the French troops ordered out of Mali.
In Mali, French troops had withdrawn by August 2022, six months after the military government, which had similarly consolidated power with two popular coups, demanded they leave. Tens of thousands took to the streets of the capital Bamako in celebration.
Later in August that year, 15 civil society organizations came together to form “M62: Sacred Union for the Safeguard of the Sovereignty and Dignity of the People.” The M62 Movement’s coordinator, Abdoulaye Seydou, said at the time that the French troops, deployed as a part of Operation Barkhane, have “killed more civilians than terrorists.”