NIAMEY-Niger’s new junta on Tuesday accused France of seeking to “intervene militarily” to reinstate deposed President Mohamed Bazoum, as tensions soared with the former colonial power and its neighbours.
France hit back in the evening with Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna denying the charges and adding it was still “possible” to restore Bazoum to power.
And in a sign of escalating regional tensions, the junta-led governments of Mali and Burkina Faso warned late Monday that any military intervention in Niger would be considered “a declaration of war” on both their countries too.
Bazoum -- a Western ally whose election just over two years ago marked Niger’s first peaceful transition of power since independence -- was toppled on July 26 by the elite Presidential Guard.
Guards chief General Abdourahamane Tiani declared himself leader -- but his claim has been shunned internationally and the West African bloc ECOWAS has given him a week to hand back power.
Bazoum is one of a dwindling group of elected presidents and pro-Western leaders in the Sahel, where since 2020 a militants insurgency has also triggered coups in Mali and Burkina Faso.
European nations prepare to evacuate citizens after Niger coup
France and Italy prepared to fly out their citizens and other Europeans from Niger on Tuesday, six days after a coup that toppled one of the last pro-Western leaders in the jihadist-plagued Sahel and stoked anti-French demonstrations.