Coup supporters attack French Embassy in Niger

Coup supporters attack French Embassy in Niger

Negotiated way out of crisis possible, says former president less than week since coup bid was launched

By James Tasamba

KIGALI, Rwanda (AA) – Protestors shouting slogans against France attacked the French Embassy in Niger’s capital Niamey on Sunday, following the military coup in the country last week.

Video footage on social media showed several of the protestors, organized by the new military leaders, burning the French flag, pelting the embassy building with stones, and trying to break through the doors and windows before being dispersed by teargas.

Some brandished the Russian flag, and protestors yelled that they took to the street “to express their discontent against France's interference in Niger's affairs.”

“Enough is enough with France, Niger is a sovereign country,” one protestor said.

Protesters carrying signs saying “Down with France” rallied at a public square in central Niamey before heading to the embassy, local sources said.

In a statement later, France warned that “anyone who attacks French nationals, the military, diplomats, or French interests will spur an immediate and uncompromising response from France.”

The statement issued by the Elysee said French President Emmanuel Macron was able to speak again to deposed President Mohamed Bazoum and Niger’s former leader Mahamadou Issoufou, “both of whom clearly condemned the coup and called for calm among the population.”

- Call for calm

Later, on Niger’s national television, the military leaders called on the protesters to refrain from vandalism and destruction of public or private property, or foreign representations.

In a message Sunday, Issoufou said he has worked to find a negotiated way out of the country’s crisis, notably allowing the release of Bazoum and his restoration to office.

“I take this opportunity to call for calm. I ask everyone to refrain from any violence,” he said, speaking out for the first time since the coup.

“I ask everyone to do everything possible to protect people and property not only with regard to Nigeriens but also foreign nationals living on our territory. Let's not forget the values of peace, brotherhood and hospitality that have always characterized our society. Let us draw on this to avoid chaos in our country.”

Gen. Abdourahamane Tchiani, the commander of Niger's presidential guard, declared himself the head of a transitional government on Friday, two days after deposing President Bazoum.

The coup attempt has been condemned by the African Union and the Economic Community of West African States bloc (ECOWAS), whose leaders met on Sunday in Nigeria to discuss the political situation in Niger.

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