STORY: France has neither confirmed nor denied being given authorization to carry out strikes aimed at freeing Niger’s ousted president Mohamed Bazoum.
That’s after the military junta that seized power last week said on Monday (July 31) that the government it had toppled had given such authorization.
Here’s Niger army spokesman Colonel Amadou Abdramane.
“In keeping with its policy of seeking ways and means to intervene militarily in Niger, France, with the complicity of certain Nigeriens, held a meeting at the headquarters of the Niger National Guard to obtain the necessary political and military authorizations.”
Bazoum has been confined to Niger’s presidential palace since Wednesday (July 26).
The junta has previously warned against foreign attempts to extract him, saying it would result in bloodshed and chaos.
France has condemned the coup and urged that Bazoum be reinstated.
However, it has not announced any intention to intervene militarily.
Asked about authorization for strikes on Monday, the French foreign ministry said the only authority it recognizes is Bazoum’s and that its priority was the security of its citizens and facilities.
On Sunday (July 30), junta supporters attacked the French embassy in the capital Niamey.
The coup in Niger follows military takeovers in Mali and Burkina Faso amid a wave of anti-French sentiment.
France has had troops in the region for a decade helping to fight a jihadist insurgency.
But some in West Africa want the former colonial power to stop intervening in their affairs.
Also in evidence outside the French embassy on Sunday – as has been the case in previous such protests in Mali and Burkina Faso – Russian flags.
They are indicative of Western concerns that West Africa’s latest military takeover could open the door for greater Russian influence in the region, as well as allow the Sahel’s insurgency to spread.