The crisis that erupted after the military coup in Niger continues on Independence Day. Hundreds of people in Niger took to the streets of the capital Niamey in connection with the 63rd anniversary of the country’s independence from France. Thousands of pro-coup demonstrators gathered in Independence Square, known as the heart of the city, following calls to protest against France.
Protesters who unfurled a giant Russian flag chanted pro-Russian slogans. Activist Issiak Hamadou said: “The only thing we care about is security. If Russia or China wants to support us, it doesn’t matter where you are from. We don’t want France, which has been robbing us since 1960. They’ve been here ever since and nothing has changed.” Another demonstrator, who identified himself as Omer, said: “I am unemployed, although I studied in this country because of the French-backed Bazum regime. They all need to leave,” he said.
While France has 1,500 troops to fight extremism in Africa’s Sahel region, supporters of the junta in Niger argue that Russia could have been a stronger ally because France has failed to defend itself against extremists.
Following the detention of President Mohamed Bazum at the presidential palace on July 26 in Niger, the army announced a seizure of power on July 27. Protests erupted in the capital after France announced it would cut financial aid to Niger following the coup.