Niger coup: France backs military action plan

France says it supports West African leaders' plans to reverse the military coup in Niger. The Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) had previously announced that a plan for military action was ready if democracy was not restored in Niger on Sunday.

France, the colonial power in Niger until 1960, did not say whether it would provide military support in the event of a military intervention by Ecowas in Niger.

"The future of Niger and the stability of the entire region are at stake," French Foreign minister Catherine Colonna said on Saturday after meeting Niger's ousted prime minister, Ouhoumoudou Mahamadou, in Paris. Mahamadou was not in Niger when the military seized power at the end of July and imprisoned president Mohamed Bazoum.

On Thursday, the junta in Niger announced that it would end military cooperation with France. France has more than 1,000 troops in Niger who help fight groups linked to al-Qaeda and Islamic State in the Sahel region. Colonna told French channel RFI on Saturday that the soldiers would remain in Niger for the time being.

She said the stationing of the soldiers has been agreed uon with the "legitimate Nigerien authorities", who have been expelled by the coup leaders. The deposed government is the only one recognised by France, she said, adding that the situation of French soldiers ​ still in Niger is currently calm.


Catherine Colonna, French minister of Foreign Affairs ©IMAGEBROKER

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