Thousands of supporters of the Niger coup marched through the streets of Niamey on Sunday, a day after the mutinous troops who perpetrated it called for a protest.
“A solidarity march organised by our countrymen has been underway at the Place de Concertation in Niamey since 9 a.m. (0800GMT). “This display of force has been unheard of in the capital for more than ten years, no doubt attesting to how much they were gagged by the old power,” stated Gen. Abdourahmane Tchiani on Twitter.
He backed his comments with a video of people demonstrating in Niamey’s streets. Numerous photographs posted on social media and in local media showed people waving Russian flags on the streets of the city and in front of the French embassy, screaming for France to leave Niger.
According to Ibrahim Harouna, the leader of a local news agency, the protests do not represent public sentiment throughout Niger.
In a social media video, he stated that Niamey is an opposition capital and that protests in support of the country’s democratically elected president, Mohamed Bazoum, had been organised in other locations.
Bazoum is the victim of a coup orchestrated by mutineers led by Tchiani, the chief of his presidential guard, under the guise of the country’s security situation deteriorating.
The mutineers are still holding him hostage.
“Our country has entered a difficult period in its history since July 26.” Faced with the dangerous scenario that is rocking it, I have tried via various methods to find a negotiated way out of the crisis, namely permitting President Mohamed Bazoum’s release and restoration to his functions. I shall continue on this route as long as there is prospect of success. “I would like to take this opportunity to urge calm,” his predecessor, Mahamadou Issoufou, wrote on Twitter.
He urged the security of persons and property, “not only with regard to Nigeriens, but also foreign nationals living on our territory.”
His remarks were consistent with those made by French officials during Sunday demonstrations at the French embassy, during which a door was set on fire.
“Anyone who attacks French nationals, the army, diplomats, or French facilities will face immediate and uncompromising retaliation from France.” The French Presidency stated, “The President of the Republic will not tolerate any attack on France and its interests.”
It also stated that it supports all regional activities aimed at restoring constitutional order and bringing President Bazoum back to power.
The presidents of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) are meeting in Nigeria for an unprecedented summit on the situation in Niger, where they have issued a one-week deadline.
They stated that “recourse to force” is not ruled out if Bazoum is not reinstated by then.