The military regime resulting from a coup d'état in Niger is considering "future relations with the France," said its leader, General Abdourahamane Tiani, on national television on Saturday (September 30th). "The Nigerien people will now dictate the shape of future relations with the France," he said in two interviews in local languages, one in Djerma, the other in Hausa.
These remarks were made a week after the announcement by French President Emmanuel Macron of the departure of the ambassador to Niamey, Sylvain Itté, returned to Paris on Wednesday, and that "by the end of the year" of some 1500 soldiers in the France Niger, as part of the fight against jihadists.
'Preparations' for the departure of French troops
The military regime had ordered the expulsion of the diplomat and repeated that it wanted the withdrawal of French troops. "We are in the process of preparing for their departure," General Tiani said.
The Nigerien regime has been engaged in a standoff with the France since the July 26 coup that overthrew President Mohamed Bazoum, an ally of the former colonial power. It does not recognize the new authorities of Niger.
As they (the French) were there to fight terrorism and they unilaterally stopped all cooperation (...) their stay in Niger has come to an end," said Abdourahamane Tiani. According to the general, "not only" the French "have not driven out the terrorists but the terrorists are more and more numerous".
If we turned a blind eye to this", the "country (was) in danger of disappearing one day, we then decided to take measures since the people (in power under Bazoum) did not listen to their military advisers," he declared, justifying the coup.
In addition, the head of the regime criticized the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), which imposed political and economic sanctions in the aftermath of the coup and threatened Niger with armed intervention. ECOWAS "did not even seek" to "know the reasons" for the coup, said the general, deploring that "the populations are suffering from the embargo".
Lambasted by Western and African countries, the Nigerien regime then found new allies such as Mali and Burkina, both led by the military. Abdourahamane Tiani recalled having created with them a defense cooperation, the Alliance of Sahel States (ESA), specifying that "an economic agreement will come next".