The situation is post-coup Niger seems to be headed to a military showdown between the Sahel nations (Mali and Burkina Faso have vowed to help Niger) and the Western powers France and US, who have troops in Nigerien territory, aligned with the ECOWAS nations African ‘democracies’.
The French ignored the junta’s ultimatums to remove both its diplomatic mission and its military troops from Niger, but are now alarmed by an arrest.
France’s Foreign Ministry stated that a French official has been arrested, and called for the junta to ‘immediately release him’.
Associated Press reported:
“The ministry said on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, that Stephane Jullien, counsellor for French citizens abroad — a non-diplomatic, elected post — was arrested last Friday, and called for his ‘immediate release’.”
French President Emmanuel Macron ordered the ambassador to stay at his post, despite being ordered to leave. This arrest will raise already high tensions between France and Niger, its former colony.
“The Foreign Ministry did not elaborate on where and how Jullien was arrested or whether officials in Paris knew where he was being held. It said only that France was following the situation closely and was ‘fully mobilized’ to assure him the protections due to anyone in another country.
France “calls immediately for his release,” the statement said.”
The French still have about 1,500 French troops based in Niger ‘to help local forces fight Islamic extremists’. But the cooperation has been suspended since the coup.
Macron rejected the demand by Niger’s rulers to withdraw troops from the West African nation.
“’If we redeploy, I would do it only at the request of President Bazoum’, Macron said, referring to Niger’s ousted leader, as the G-20 summit wrapped up in New Delhi, India, on Sunday. ‘We don’t recognize any legitimacy in the declarations from the putschists’.
His comments came after the ruling junta said France was ignoring its request for the 1,500 French troops stationed in Niger to leave the country by Sept. 3. Nigerien and French military officers met earlier this month to discuss a plan for a French troop withdrawal from Niger, a junta spokesman said late Saturday. No progress has been made on implementing the plan, Colonel-Major Amadou Abdramane said in a statement on public broadcaster Tele Sahel.”
Since the junta ousted President Mohamed Bazoum in July, Macron has said he would back a decision by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to use force to restore democracy.
And in the last few days, the junta leaders have accused France of ‘gathering forces and equipment’ in several West African countries with a view to launching a ‘military intervention’ against Niamey.
Al Jazeera reported:
“Colonel Amadou Abdramane, a spokesman for Niger’s coup leaders, made the claim on national television late on Saturday.
He said France was continuing to deploy its forces in member countries of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) as ‘part of preparations for an aggression against Niger, which it is planning in collaboration with this community organisation’.
French ‘military cargo aircraft have enabled large quantities of war material and equipment to be unloaded in Senegal, Ivory Coast and Benin, to name but a few’, he said.”
The United States, which also has about 1,100 soldiers in Niger, has begun to relocate troops ‘as a precaution’ to the central city of Agadez, the US Department of Defense said this week.
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