Even if it’s sluggish. The putschists in Niger show themselves ready to expel the French ambassador in the country after the 48-hour ultimatum granted this Friday, even if “by force”. Tempers ran high on Sunday afternoon when the spokesman for the military junta berated the ambassador: Sylvain Itte: “Who do you think you refuse to go?”
The French Foreign Ministry has already categorically denied that the military had any authority to expel the diplomat “Only the elected president has the right” to depose the ambassadors of third countries in Niamey. The pulse gets tighter. Muscles are tense and hundreds of demonstrators support the coup threatened to storm the French military base and embassy in Niger this weekendduring celebrations of the first month since the ousting of President Mohamed Bazoum.
Anti-French chants were sung during the protests, and they reiterated their support for their new leaders: if French troops and the diplomatic delegation do not leave the country, the civilians themselves seem poised to lead the attack.
From Paris, they appear to be playing a new prank that could benefit their interests. Recent events point to certain internal divisions in the putschist leadership. Generals Tchiani and Modi, Numbers One and Two of the CNSP, In recent days they have been discussing which ambassadors and from which countries they should be expelled. Tchiani pleaded for the expulsion of the ambassadors of Nigeria, the USA, Germany and Italy; Modi, apparently more moderate than his boss, called for calm. And finally, the French ambassador was the only one whose departure is mandatory.
If France knows how to amplify these differences, maybe, and just maybe, it will do something in its favor. Tension is beginning to take its toll on the coup plotters who are lining up this Saturday They put their troops on high alert of the possibility of an imminent military intervention led by ECOWAS. “The threat of aggression is increasing,” the board said in a statement, saying it wanted to avoid “the element of surprise” of an attack. It should be remembered that the number of Nigerian armed forces barely reaches 10,000 soldiers compared to 230,000 in neighboring Nigeria. The geographical extent and the aid promised by Mali and Burkina Faso speak in favor of Niger. They face a community army supported by France and perhaps the United States.
For every step taken by the military junta holed up in Niamey, the international community gives it two shoves. While Prigozhin offered his support to the coup leaders a few hours after the July 26 coup, Prigozhin was assassinated in the air a few days ago. While the African Union three weeks ago refused to support ECOWAS should the organization intervene militarily in Niger, this week the African Union suspended the African country as punishment for its recent assault on the constitutional order. If Nigerians, who are taking to the streets in support of the coup leaders, hope for a brighter future, the floods caused by the rains in the country are 27 people are killed and more than 6,000 houses destroyed.
It is enough for the ambassador to suffer damage or for the French base in Niamey to eventually be stormed by the protesters for tensions with France to reach a point where it becomes difficult to return. Algeria has already pledged that if French planes are deployed to Niger, it will not allow it to cross its airspace The Nigerian generals’ luck is running out by the day. And the nerves are palpable, you can feel them, they can break, both on the street and in ministerial offices, where there is hardly any electricity to keep the air conditioning running.