France Deploying Troops, Weapons In W/African Countries Ahead Of Niger’s Invasion
The Niger military administration has accused France of building up forces, and war equipment in several neighbouring West African countries in preparation for an aggression agains the country.
Relations with France, Niger’s former colonial power, soured after Paris stood by ousted President Mohamed Bazoum following the July coup.
In a statement broadcast on national television late Saturday, putchists’ spokesman Colonel Major Amadou Abdramane said, “France continues to deploy its forces in several ECOWAS countries as part of preparations for an aggression against Niger, which it is planning in collaboration with this community organisation.”
Abdramane added that France had deployed military aircraft, helicopters and 40 armoured vehicles to Cote d’Ivoire and Benin.
“Military cargo aircraft have enabled large quantities of war material and equipment to be unloaded in Senegal, Cote d’Ivoire and Benin, to name but a few,” he said.
Niger is also embroiled in a standoff with the West African bloc ECOWAS, which has threatened to intervene militarily if diplomatic pressure to return Bazoum to office fails.
However, the regional bloc has said it does not want Niger to repeat “the experiences of Mali, Guinea and Burkina”, with which it had to haggle over the durations and conditions of transition periods.
On August 3, the coup leaders renounced several military cooperation agreements with France, which has about 1,500 soldiers stationed in the country as part of a wider fight against militants.
They maintained that France’s forces are now “illegally” stationed in Niger.
Paris, which refuses to recognise the military regime in Niger, does not consider the mutinous soldiers who ousted President Bazoum as party to those cooperation deals.
France is engaged in a tug of war with Niger, which has also withdrawn the diplomatic immunity of French ambassador Sylvain Itte and ordered police to expel him.
France has refused the demand on several occasions, saying the military regime has no legal right to make such an order.