France announces evacuation of its nationals from Niger amid coup, chaos

France announces evacuation of its nationals from Niger amid coup, chaos

Air evacuation operation being prepared and will take place very soon with coordination of Nigerien forces, says French Embassy in Niamey

By Aurore Bonny

DOUALA, Cameroon (AA) - France will soon evacuate its citizens stranded in Niger amid ongoing coup d'etat and general chaos in the country, the French embassy announced on Tuesday.

"An evacuation operation by air is being prepared" and "will take place very soon," the French Embassy in Niamey, Niger's capital, said in a statement.

The evacuation operation will be coordinated with Niger forces, it added.

There are currently 600 French civilians in Niger, according to the Foreign Ministry, as well as 1,500 soldiers stationed in different regions.

The embassy announcement comes just hours after military juntas in neighboring Burkina Faso and Mali jointly threatened to leave their sub-regional bloc and retaliate against any military intervention in Niger.

On Monday, the authorities of the landlocked West African country accused France of planning a military intervention with two Nigerien authorities to free Niger President Mohamed Bazoum, who is still being held by the mutineers.

They also accused France of using lethal force against demonstrators and vandals near its embassy.

The French mission denied these allegations, saying the safety of French nationals in Niger is their top priority.

Last week, a group of soldiers calling themselves the National Council for the Safeguarding of the Country issued a statement shortly after detaining Bazoum, saying they did so due to the "deteriorating security situation and bad governance."

Bazoum was elected in 2021, in Niger’s first democratic power transition since it gained independence from French colonial rule in 1960.

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