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Pro-Coup Rally In Niger After Military Leader Warns Against Foreign Intervention

Supporters of Niger’s National Concil of Sefeguard of the Homeland (CNSP) hold Niger national flags during as they gather at Place de la Concertation in Niamey on August 20, 2023. (Photo by – / AFP)

Thousands of people marched in Niger’s capital on Sunday in support of last month’s military coup, whose leader has warned against outside meddling and suggested a three-year handover of power.

Protesters yelled anti-French and anti-West African regional grouping ECOWAS chants, with the latter mulling a military intervention to restore elected President Mohamed Bazoum if continuing talks with coup leaders fail.

The new military leaders of the Sahel state have officially prohibited demonstrations, but those in favour of the coup are permitted to go ahead.

Supporters of Niger’s National Concil of Sefeguard of the Homeland (CNSP) hold Niger (R) and a Russian (L) flags as they gather at Place de la Concertation in Niamey on August 20, 2023. (Photo by – / AFP)

The demonstrators held posters reading “Stop the military intervention” and “No to sanctions,” referring to the financial and trade restrictions imposed by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) four days after the July 26 coup.

According to AFP journalists, artists hailing the new military rule performed at the pro-coup demonstration on Sunday.

The latest in a series of pro-coup protests took place a day after Niamey’s new military ruler warned that an attack on Niger would be no “walk in the park.”

In a televised address on Saturday, General Abdourahamane Tiani also stated that he does not seek to “confiscate” power and that a transition back to civilian control would not last more than three years.

Supporters of Niger’s National Concil of Sefeguard of the Homeland (CNSP) hold Niger national flags during as they gather at Place de la Concertation in Niamey on August 20, 2023. (Photo by – / AFP)
Niger’s new leaders have accused France, a close Bazoum ally, of being behind the anti-coup stance taken by ECOWAS, which on Saturday made a fresh push for a diplomatic solution.

After ECOWAS chiefs of staff met in the Ghanaian capital Accra on Friday, the 17-nation bloc said it had agreed on a date for a potential intervention.

Diplomatic push

It nonetheless sent a diplomatic delegation to Niamey on Saturday, led by former Nigerian leader Abdulsalami Abubakar.

Niger television showed delegation members shaking hands with Bazoum, who remains in detention.

It also broadcast footage of Abubakar speaking to Tiani but the content of the exchange has not been made public.

In his televised address on Saturday, Tiani alleged that ECOWAS was “getting ready to attack Niger by setting up an occupying army in collaboration with a foreign army”, without saying which country he meant.

But he added: “If an attack were to be undertaken against us, it will not be the walk in the park some people seem to think.”

Tiani also announced a 30-day period of “national dialogue” to draw up “concrete proposals” to lay the foundations of “a new constitutional life”.

ECOWAS leaders say they have to act now that Niger has become the fourth West African nation since 2020 to suffer a coup, following Burkina Faso, Guinea and Mali.

The bloc has agreed to activate a “standby force” as a last resort to restore democracy in Niger.

The Sahel region is struggling with growing jihadist insurgencies linked to Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group.

Those behind the military takeovers have pointed to frustration over the violence to justify seizing power.

Written by PH

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