The Niger military administration, led by the junta, has leveled serious accusations against France, alleging that it is amassing military forces and war equipment in neighboring West African countries as part of preparations for a potential aggression against Niger.
Tensions between Niger and France, its former colonial power, escalated after Paris openly supported the ousted President Mohamed Bazoum following the July coup. The junta’s spokesman, Colonel Major Amadou Abdramane, conveyed these allegations in a statement aired on national television late Saturday. Abdramane stated, “France continues to deploy its forces in several ECOWAS countries as part of preparations for an aggression against Niger, which it is planning in collaboration with this community organization.”
According to Abdramane, France has deployed military aircraft, helicopters, and approximately 40 armored vehicles to Cote d’Ivoire and Benin. He further mentioned that military cargo aircraft have facilitated the transportation of substantial quantities of war material and equipment to countries such as Senegal, Cote d’Ivoire, and Benin.
The situation is further complicated by the standoff between Niger and the West African bloc ECOWAS, which has threatened military intervention if diplomatic efforts to reinstate President Bazoum fail. ECOWAS is keen to avoid a repeat of the prolonged transitional periods seen in Mali, Guinea, and Burkina Faso, where negotiations were protracted and conditions were contentious.
On August 3, the coup leaders renounced several military cooperation agreements with France, which had approximately 1,500 soldiers stationed in Niger as part of a broader counterterrorism effort. They argue that France’s forces are now “illegally” present in Niger. Paris, however, does not recognize the military regime in Niger and excludes the mutinous soldiers who ousted President Bazoum from these cooperation deals.
This diplomatic tension has also led to a standoff involving the French ambassador, Sylvain Itte. Niger withdrew his diplomatic immunity and ordered the expulsion of the ambassador. France has consistently rejected this demand, asserting that the military regime lacks the legal authority to issue such an order.
The situation remains volatile, with international observers closely monitoring developments in the region as concerns over a potential conflict continue to grow. France and Niger find themselves locked in a diplomatic impasse with no immediate resolution in sight.