Niger Coup: Crisis deepens as France plans evacuation

The evacuation is expected to take place swiftly and “very soon”

TOPSHOT-NIGER-POLITICS Supporters of Nigerien President Mohamed Bazoum gather to show their support for him in Niamey | AFP

France is set to evacuate its citizens from Niger, the French foreign ministry said on Tuesday. Unrest continues in the country days after President Mohamed Bazoum was overthrown by members of his presidential guard. 

"In the face of a deteriorating security situation in Niamey, and taking advantage of the relative calm in Niamey, an operation of evacuation by air from Niamey is being prepared," the French Embassy said in a statement, DW reported. The evacuation is expected to take place swiftly and “very soon”. 

Germany's Foreign Ministry, on Monday, said it was suspending bilateral cooperation with Niger, but added there were no plans to evacuate its citizens yet. Currently, about 100 members of the German army are present in Niger to assist in training local forces. 

On Sunday, supporters of Niger's new leader General Abdourahamane Tiani burned French flags and attacked the French embassy in the capital city of Niamey. The police used tear gas to disperse the attackers. Later, French President Emmanuel Macron warned of a “swift and uncompromising response” if there were any attacks on French interests in Niger.

Currently, there are about 500 French nationals and around 1,500 French troops in Niger. French troops have been helping to fight against Islamic insurgencies in the Sahel region for about a decade. Niger gained independence from France in 1960. 

The Italian foreign ministry too, has said that a special flight would be arranged to evacuate Italian nationals from the country. Neighbouring countries of Burkina Faso and Mali have said that "any military intervention against Niger will be considered as a declaration of war against Burkina Faso and Mali.”

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) imposed sanctions on Niger and has said that it would employ military intervention if Bazoum was not reinstated by August 6. 

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