Following the declaration of support by Niger’s armed forces chief for his troops, who claimed to have overthrown the country’s government, France, the nation’s former colonial power, asserted that the coup is not definitive and suggested that the situation is still unfolding.
“If you hear me talking about an attempted coup, it’s because we don’t consider things final, there is still a way out if those responsible listen to the international community,” French foreign minister Catherine Colonna said.
President Mohamed Bazoum, deemed a pro-West figure in the country, remains confined at his residence since July 26 by members of his presidential guard.
The self-declared Defence and Security Forces (FDS), declared late on July 26 that they had “decided to put an end to the regime,” and all institutions were being suspended, and the borders were closed.
Armed forces chief General Abdou Sidikou Issa on Thursday swung his weight behind the putschists.
Earlier, Bazoum defiantly stood his ground as condemnation of the swelled from African and international organisations and country’s allies France and the United States.
“The hard-won (democratic) gains will be safeguarded,” Bazoum said on Twitter.
“All Nigeriens who love democracy and freedom would want this.”
Foreign minister Hassoumi Massoudou said Niger’s “legal and legitimate power” was the one exercised by its elected president.
There had been a “coup bid” but “the whole of the army was not involved,” he told France24 television.
“We ask all the fractious soldiers to return to their ranks,” he said.
“Everything can be achieved through dialogue but the institutions of the republic must function.”
Pro-coup demonstrations in Niger
Several hundred people in Niamey and the town of Dosso took part in shows of support for the coup leaders, news agency AFP reported.
In scenes redolent of what happened in Mali following a coup there in 2020, some held Russian flags and chanted anti-French and pro-Russian slogans.
“France was unable to take care of our problems we need to take our destiny in hand,” said their leader, who gave his name as Issouf and said he worked in a garage.
Youngsters from the gathering in the capital Niamey travelled several kilometers (miles) to the headquarters of Bazoum’s PN