France Rejects Niger's new Military Leadership, Declares Support for Detained Leader

By Starrys Obazei | July 28, 2023.

France does not recognise the leaders of the putsch who claim to have seized power in Niger and considers detained President Mohamed Bazoum the country’s sole leader, the French foreign ministry said Friday, AFP reports.

Bazoum, “democratically elected by the people of Niger, is the only president of the Republic of Niger”, it said in a statement. “France does not recognise the authorities resulting from the putsch led by General (Abdourahamane) Tchiani.”

It added that France “reaffirmed in the strongest terms the clear demands of the international community calling for the immediate restoration of constitutional order and democratically-elected civilian government in Niger.”

Tchiani, head of the Presidential Guard since 2011, earlier read a statement on national TV as the “president of the National Council for the Safeguard of the Homeland” on the third day since Bazoum was detained.

French President Emmanuel Macron, who had sought to make Bazoum a close ally in the jihadist-hit Sahel region, had earlier described the coup as “completely illegitimate and profoundly dangerous, for Nigeriens, for Niger and for the whole region.”

Bazoum and his family have been confined since Wednesday to their residence at the presidential palace located within the Guard’s military camp.

He is said to be in good health and has been able to talk by telephone to other heads of state including Macron.

French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna had earlier held out hope for Bazoum’s position saying: “If you hear me talking about an attempted coup, it’s 77because we don’t consider things final.”

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