By Ajisafe Olayiwola
Coup leaders in the Republic of Niger, on Thursday, revoked a raft of military cooperation agreements with France.
The country further suspended broadcasts of French state-funded international news outlets France 24 and RFI earlier on Thursday – drawing condemnation from the French foreign ministry.
A decision about the revocation of five military deals with France dating between 1977 and 2020 was read out on national television late on Thursday by junta representative, Amadou Abdramane, Reuters reports.
Abdramane added that a diplomatic notice will be sent to France to that effect. There was no immediate response from France.
Some locals have accused the former colonial ruler of interfering in their affairs.
The PUNCH had reported on Sunday that the Chairman of the Economic Community of West African States, Bola Tinubu, had met with some fellow ECOWAS leaders to discuss appropriate ways to restore democracy in Niger.
The leaders of the West African regional bloc met to discuss sanctions to be placed against the military personnel who toppled President-elect Mohamed Bazoum on July 26, 2023.
ECOWAS has said it could authourise the use of force if soldiers did not restore Bazoum to power by Sunday.
The Nigerian government cut the power supply to the West African neighbour on Wednesday.
Also, western partners, including France, have imposed sweeping sanctions in an effort to pressure the coup leaders to restore constitutional order
However, junta leader, Abdourahamane Tchiani who was the former head of Niger’s presidential guard, has said he will not back down.
Tiani has won the backing of the juntas in Mali and Burkina Faso and cited persistent insecurity as his main justification for seizing power, even though data on attacks in the country shows that security has actually been improving.
Niger’s military coup is the seventh coup in West and Central Africa since 2020.
Ousted president, Bazoum, said in an opinion piece published on Thursday in the Washington Post that he is a hostage and called on the international community to restore constitutional order.
Bazoum wrote, “This coup, launched against my government by a faction in the military on July 26, has no justification whatsoever. If it succeeds, it will have devastating consequences for our country, our region and the entire world.”
An ECOWAS delegation was in Niamey, hoping to secure a peaceful resolution on the matter, but they were unable to meet the junta leaders or the ousted president.
The bloc’s defence chiefs have also met this week to discuss a possible military response, which they have said would be a last resort.
On Thursday, the junta said any aggression or attempted aggression by ECOWAS would be met with an immediate riposte without warning from Niger’s armed forces on any ECOWAS member-state except those friendly to Niger.
On Thursday, hundreds of protesters marched in the Nigerien capital Niamey to demonstrate their opposition to foreign pressure.
One of the demonstrators in Niamey held a placard that stated, “Long live Niger, Russia, Mali and Burkina. Down with France, ECOWAS, EU.” Others waved Russian flags as they gathered outside the National Assembly.
France has between 1,000 and 1,500 troops in Niger, helping to fight an insurgency by groups linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State that have destabilised West Africa’s Sahel region.
Mali and Burkina Faso have said they would treat an intervention in Niger as a “declaration of war” against them too, and would come to Niamey’s defence.
General Tchiani sent a general to both countries on Wednesday to shore up support.