Thousands of people protested in Niamey, Niger’s capital, against ECOWAS interference in the coup that deposed the democratically elected government.
Demonstrators in the heart of Niamey screamed anti-French slogans at a rally commemorating the west African nation’s independence from France in 1960.
The crowd at the rally around him was shouting “Down with France”, “Long live Russia, long live (Vladimir) Putin”.
European nationals have started leaving Niger a week after the elected president Mohamed Bazoum was overthrown.
Niger has been a crucial part of French and Western strategy to battle the terrorist insurgency that has afflicted the Sahel since 2012.
The clock is ticking down on Sunday’s ultimatum from West African regional bloc ECOWAS for the coup leaders to restore Bazoum to power within a week or face the possible “last resort” of military intervention.
Niger is the fourth member of the group to undergo a putsch since 2020.
Senegal said it would send soldiers to join ECOWAS if it decided to intervene militarily in Niger.
Foreign Minister Aissata Tall Sall says “It is one coup too many.”
Bazoum has been held by the coup plotters since 26th July, prompting US President Joe Biden to call for his immediate release Thursday, urging the “preservation of Niger’s hard-earned democracy”.
Britain and the United States have announced the pulling back of embassy personnel in Niger as a precaution.