France to begin evacuation for its citizens, EU nationals in Niger | News



The French foreign ministry says evacuation plans were already under way for European nationals living in Niger.

The French foreign ministry has said plans to evacuate French citizens are underway in the West African state of Niger, days after President Mohamed Bazoum was overthrown by members of his presidential guard.

“Considering the situation in Niamey, the violence against our embassy the day before yesterday and the fact that the air space is shut and our citizens cannot leave by their own means, France is preparing the evacuation of its citizens and (other) European citizens who want to leave the country,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.

“The evacuation will start today,” it said.

Last Wednesday’s overthrow of President Bazoum – the seventh military takeover in less than three years in West and Central Africa – has sent shockwaves across the region.

On Sunday, supporters of the coup burned French flags and attacked the French embassy in Niger’s capital, Niamey, prompting police to fire volleys of tear gas in response. In response, French President Emmanuel Macron said any attacks on French interests in Niger would be met with a “swift and uncompromising response”.

According to the foreign ministry website, there were less than 1,200 French nationals in Niger in 2022.

French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna told BFM TV late on Monday that the protest in front of the embassy and the ensuing accusations that France shot at the crowd – which it denies – “have all the usual ingredients of destabilisation, the Russian-African way”.

Yevgeny Prigozhin, the head of Russia’s Wagner mercenary group, last week welcomed the coup in Niger, and said his forces were available to restore order.

But the Kremlin said on Monday that the situation in Niger was “cause for serious concern” and called for a swift return to constitutional order.

Landlocked Niger has had a turbulent political history since gaining independence in 1960. Before Wednesday, there had been four coups and numerous other attempts, including two previously against Bazoum.

France has had troops in the region for a decade helping to fight armed groups, but some locals say they want the former colonial ruler to stop intervening in their affairs.

Niger coup supporters attack French embassy | Al Jazeera Newsfeed

Pro-Russian supporters of Niger’s coup have attacked the French embassy to demand the end of France’s presence and influence in its former colony. Niger’s coup leader claims France may attack to restore Mohamed Bazoum to power.


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