France on Friday rejected the Niger junta’s move to scrap bilateral military pacts, saying only the West African country’s “legitimate” leadership was entitled to do so. The news comes after a team of mediators from the West African regional bloc ECOWAS left the capital of Niamey without meeting coup leader Abdourahamane Tiani. Follow our live blog for all the latest developments. All times are Paris time (GMT+2).
:39pm: France says only ‘legitimate’ Niger government can cut military ties
France on Friday rejected the Niger junta’s move to scrap bilateral military pacts, saying the West African country’s “legitimate” leadership alone was entitled to do so.
“The legal framework of France’s defence agreement with Niger is based on accords that were signed with the legitimate Nigerien authorities,” the foreign ministry said after the junta in Niamey said it was canceling military cooperation agreements with Paris.
1:23 pm: Germany urges continued ‘mediation efforts’ with Niger Junta
Germany’s foreign ministry on Friday urged continued “mediation efforts” with Niger’s junta after a West African delegation failed to secure the return to power of the country’s elected government.
“It is important that we give space for mediation efforts,” a foreign ministry spokesman in Berlin told a press briefing. “We hope that they can lead to a successful end … a political solution.”
1:22 pm: Kremlin says foreign intervention will not resolve Niger crisis
Russia said on Friday that outside intervention would not improve the situation in Niger after toppled President Mohamed Bazoum called on the United States and the international community to help restore constitutional order.
“It is unlikely that the intervention of any extra-regional force can change the situation for the better,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists, adding that Russia was “monitoring the situation very closely and concerned about the tensions arising in the region”.
11:42 am: Niger junta lifts curfew in place since the coup
Niger’s coup leaders have lifted the curfew they imposed after taking power and toppling President Mohamed Bazoum on July 26, plunging the country into crisis.
“The curfew imposed since July 26, 2023, is officially lifted as of today,” according to a decree dated late Thursday and signed by coup leader Abdourahamane Tiani.
10:31 am: EU ‘strongly condemns’ blocking of FRANCE 24 and RFI in Niger
The European Union on Friday “strongly” condemned the blocking of French media broadcasts in Niger, where last week’s coup sparked protests against the country’s former colonial ruler.
“This step is a serious violation of the right to information and freedom of expression. The EU strongly condemns these violations of fundamental freedoms,” EU spokeswoman Nabila Massrali said on Twitter, recently rebranded as X.
FRANCE 24 and RFI’s broadcasts have been blocked in the country since Thursday afternoon. Both broadcasters remain accessible in Niger through direct satellite reception and can be accessed on YouTube, their respective apps, websites, and social media platforms.
9:03 am: ECOWAS mediators leave Niger without meeting junta leader
A team from the West African regional bloc ECOWAS left Niger without meeting the leader of the junta that seized power in a coup last Sunday, a delegation member said Friday.
The Economic Community of West African States delegation arrived in the Niger capital Niamey on Thursday “but did not spend the night” as scheduled, nor met with coup leader General Abdourahamane Tiani or deposed President Mohamed Bazoum, the team member said.
8:12 am: ECOWAS seeks solution to Niger coup as deadline nears
Defence chiefs from the West African regional bloc ECOWAS were set to wrap up discussions about possible intervention in Niger on Friday, as a team of mediators from the economic grouping push coup leaders in Niamey to restore constitutional order before an approaching deadline.
This Sunday will mark the one-week deadline given by ECOWAS following the coup, with the regional bloc threatening to use force if Niger’s democratically elected president is not reinstated.
1:45 am: Niger junta to respond ‘immediately’ to any ‘aggression’ by West Africa bloc
Niger’s newly installed junta said it would respond immediately to any “aggression or attempted aggression” against it by West African countries, three days before the expiry of an ultimatum to restore order given by regional bloc ECOWAS.
“Any aggression or attempted aggression against the State of Niger will see an immediate and unannounced response from the Niger Defence and Security Forces on one of (the bloc’s) members, with the exception of suspended friendly countries,” declared one of the putschists in a statement, alluding to neighbouring Burkina Faso and Mali.
1:30 am: Niger junta ends mandates of ambassadors to the US, France, Nigeria, and Togo
Niger’s coup leaders on Thursday evening announced they were ending the mandates of ambassadors to four countries, as they face international pressure to restore the democratically elected leader they ousted last week.
“The functions of the extraordinary and plenipotentiary ambassadors of the Republic of Niger” to France, Nigeria, Togo, and the United States “are terminated”, one of the putschists said in a statement read on national television.
1:25 am: Niger’s ousted president calls for restoration of his government
Elected Niger President Mohamed Bazoum said Thursday that if a coup attempt to depose him is successful, “it will have devastating consequences for our country, our region, and the entire world.”
In a column in The Washington Post, Bazoum called on “the US government and the entire international community to help us restore our constitutional order.”
The appeal was Bazoum’s first lengthy statement since his presidential guard detained him on July 26 and took control of the Niger government.
“I write this as a hostage,” Bazoum wrote.
“Niger is under attack from a military junta… and I am just one of hundreds of citizens who have been arbitrarily and illegally imprisoned.”
“This coup must end, and the junta must free everyone they have unlawfully arrested,” he wrote.
“In Africa’s troubled Sahel region, Niger stands as the last bastion of respect for human rights amid the authoritarian movements that have overtaken some of our neighbors,” he wrote.
He warned that Niger’s neighbors have increasingly invited in “criminal Russian mercenaries such as the Wagner Group at the expense of their people’s rights and dignity.”
“The entire Sahel region,” he said, “could fall to Russian influence via the Wagner Group, whose brutal terrorism has been on full display in Ukraine.”
Terrorist movements like Boko Haram, he added, “will surely take advantage of Niger’s instability, using our country as a staging ground to attack neighboring countries and undermine peace, safety, and freedom around the world.”
1:15 am: Niger junta says scrapping military pacts with France
Niger’s junta on Thursday said it was scrapping military pacts made between Niamey and France, following last week’s coup.
“Faced with France’s careless attitude and its reaction to the situation”, the “National Council for the Safeguard of the Homeland decided to scrap the cooperation agreements in the field of security and defence with this state,” one of the putschists said in a statement read out on television late on Thursday.
12:06 am: Niger ambassador to US warns coup could destabilise the region
Niger’s junta must “come to reason” and return power to ousted President Mohamed Bazoum before the country and the wider region collapse, Niamey’s ambassador to Washington said Thursday.
“If Niger collapses, the entire Sahel will collapse, will be destabilized,” Ambassador Kiari Liman-Tinguiri told AFP in an interview on Niger’s independence day, as the future of Western economic and security aid hangs in the balance for the landlocked West African country facing multiple conflicts with violent extremists.
“The junta should come to reason, realize that this affair cannot succeed, and prevent useless, inevitable suffering for our people and hand back power,” said Liman-Tinguiri, who remains a recognized diplomat in Washington and considers himself a representative of the “legitimate” President Bazoum, detained by his guards since late last month.
Key events in Niger so far:
Tiani said the putsch was a response to “the degradation of the security situation” linked to jihadist bloodshed, as well as corruption and economic woes.
Former colonial ruler France and the European Union have suspended security cooperation and financial aid to Niger following the coup, while the United States warned that its aid could also be at stake.
At an emergency summit on Sunday, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) gave Tiani one week to reinstate the country’s democratically elected president and threatened to use force if the demands aren’t met.
France has denied accusations from Niger’s coup leaders that Paris is plotting to intervene militarily, with Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna telling FRANCE 24 that “France’s only priority is the safety of our nationals”.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP, and Reuters)