In the midst of political turmoil in Niger, protesters attacked the French embassy in Niamey following the recent military coup that ousted elected President Mohamed Bazoum. Demonstrators tore down and stomped on a sign bearing “Embassy of France in Niger” before replacing it with Russian and Niger flags. Videos showed the protesters setting fire to one of the embassy’s entrances.
The French government strongly condemned any violence against diplomatic premises and called on the Nigerien forces to ensure the security of their diplomatic and consular offices as per international law. France warned of a swift and resolute response to any attacks on French citizens or interests in Niger and expressed support for regional initiatives aimed at restoring constitutional order and reinstating the elected President Mohamed Bazoum.
Protesters gathered in a massive rally to support the military coup that overthrew President Mohamed Bazoum. Some attempted to storm the French embassy while others seized the embassy sign, replacing it with Russian and Nigerien flags, chanting “Long live Russia” and “Down with France.”
The military council had prohibited demonstrations. On Saturday, France, Niger’s ally in the fight against jihadism with 1,500 troops deployed in the country, announced the suspension of its aid.
A few protesters also headed to the U.S. Embassy, where Secretary of State Antony Blinken reaffirmed his country’s “steadfast” support for ousted President Mohamed Bazoum. The civil movement “EM26,” previously protesting against the French military’s Operation Barkhane in the Sahel and Sahara, called for the demonstrations despite the ban on gatherings.
Niger is the third country in the region to experience a coup since 2020, following Mali and Burkina Faso, and has been plagued by attacks from jihadist groups linked to the Islamic State and al-Qaeda.