The French government, through its French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna, has expressed support for the ambitious effort by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to use force to restore democracy in Niger.
In a meeting held in Paris between French government officials and the duo of Niger’s Prime Minister Ouhoumoudou Mahamadou and Niger’s Ambassador to France, Achatou Boulama Kané, Colonna stated the position of France on the issues in Niger.
In the heat of the deadline order given to the coup plotters to restore the status quo, which terminates on Sunday, she called for support, saying that it “firmly and resolutely supports the efforts of ECOWAS to thwart this attempted putsch.”
Earlier, 15 West African countries met at the behest of its chairman, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, where Nigeria gave the coupists until Sunday to return power to the ousted democratically elected President Mohamed Bazoum or face a military solution by ECOWAS.
Though France has denied any interest in participating in the ECOWAS military solution in Niger, Colonna has come out to clarify France’s stance on the issues, saying, “We’re not there yet. The decisions taken by ECOWAS immediately after the coup d’état constitute pressure, a clear demand on the part of the countries in the region, relaying that of the entire international community.”
According to Colonna, France takes seriously the plan of ECOWAS to restore democracy in Niger. She further stated that “The chiefs of staff in the region have met, made preparations, and indicated that preparations have been made.”
As early as Thursday, the coupists cancelled all military pacts Niger currently had with France, possibly because of France’s apparent posture in support of ECOWAS’s intention to use force against them.
France and the U.S. have a huge military presence in the country and have been part of the special unit against terrorism in the Sahel region of Africa.
France has responded, saying that it will not obey the orders of an illegitimate and unrecognizable government. Rather, it will continue to act according to the pact it had with Niger in the past. France also reiterated the position of ECOWAS, reaffirming its support for ECOWAS.
In a new twist, the last batch of Wagner PMC units have arrived in Niger after the coupists entered into a pact with them, in direct response to the ECOWAS threat to use military force.
The coupists, who are now the new leaders of Niger, have given the French military occupying their country 30 days to leave its territory voluntarily or face the use of force.
The new administrators in Niger have seen some African countries speak against the use of force against them, with the latest being Algeria.
The Algerian president, Abdelmadjid Taboun, had said that “The possibility of foreign military intervention in Niger is an immediate threat to Algeria. We reject military intervention.” He also stated that Algeria is a stakeholder in what is going on in Niger, saying that it has a stretched border with the country and is meant to be part of the solution.
It remains to be seen how ECOWAS will react by the end of the deadline, as well as to these recent developments, particularly the recent pact between the new administration in Niamey and the Wagner group.