Thousands of pro-coup supporters gather in Niamey to demand withdrawal of French troops from Niger

Thousands of pro-coup supporters gather in Niamey to demand withdrawal of French troops from Niger

On country's 63rd anniversary of independence from France, rally participants carried placards with slogans such as ‘Down with France,’ chanted slogans against foreign troops in Niger

By James Tasamba

KIGALI, Rwanda (AA) – Thousands of coup supporters gathered on Thursday in the Niger capital of Niamey, demanding that the military junta force France and other foreign troops to leave the country.

The people gathered in Independence Square were mobilized by M62, an umbrella organization of several civil society groups claiming to be anti-imperialist, which planned the demonstration on Thursday, which coincided with the country's 63rd anniversary of independence from France in 1963.

Like previous protests, the demonstrators were carrying placards with statements such as “Down with France” and chanted slogans against France and foreign troops in Niger, according to video footage shared on social media.

Some of the demonstrators were seen waving Russian flags and wearing t-shirts with the face of Gen. Abdourahmane Tchiani, the commander of the country's presidential guard who declared himself the head of a transitional government following last week's military coup.

People shouted that they went on the street to show their support for the junta and to denounce the presence of foreign armed forces in Niger, as well as the sanctions imposed on the country by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) bloc in the aftermath of the military coup.

Last Sunday, protesters attacked the French Embassy in Niamey, setting fire to a portion of it.

However, this time, security forces were alert and blocked roads leading to the French and US embassies in the capital to prevent attacks and vandalism.

Meanwhile, Tchiani, the leader of Niger's military junta, stated on the social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter, on Thursday morning that “the weeks and months ahead will certainly be difficult for our country. Those who oppose us have no limits when it comes to defending their selfish interests.”

“They will only stop in the face of the firm determination of the Nigerien people,” he added.

President Mohamed Bazoum was detained by members of the presidential guard on July 26, and later that evening, the military announced that it had seized power.

On July 28, Gen. Tchiani declared himself the head of a transitional government.

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