On Saturday, the spokesman for the military junta, Colonel-Major Amadou Abdramane, accused France of deploying troops and military equipment to the West African countries of Benin, Ivory Coast and Senegal to prepare to invade Niger. He said, “France continues to deploy its forces in several ECOWAS [Economic Community of West African States] countries as part of preparations for an aggression against Niger, which it is considering in collaboration with this organization.”
He added that “that two A400M type military transport aircraft and a Dornier 328 were deployed as reinforcements in Côte d’Ivoire. And two Super Puma type multirole helicopters and around forty armored vehicles were deployed in Kandi and Malanville in Benin. On September 7, 2023, a French military ship docked in Cotonou [Benin] with personnel and military assets on board. The generals in power also report around a hundred rotations of military cargo planes having made it possible to land significant quantities of war material and equipment in Senegal, Ivory Coast and Benin, to name but a few.”
The goal of the French military build-up, the spokesman said, is “to achieve a successful military intervention against our country.”
On Sunday, French President Emmanuel Macron issued a belligerent statement refusing to recognize the authority of the Nigerien junta or the legitimacy of demands for a withdrawal of French troops from Niger. “We do not recognize any legitimacy in the statements of the junta in Niger,” he said during a press conference at the G20 summit in Delhi.
Macron’s remarks effectively amounted to repeating his threat to organize a French-backed intervention into Niger carried out with ECOWAS troops. He claimed that the Bazoum regime and the French military presence in Niger are legitimate, despite mass protests against French troops in Niger and across the region.
Macron said, “France, French forces were set up on Niger soil at the request of Niger. And we are here to fight against terrorism at the request of Niger and its democratically elected authorities, namely President Bazoum, his government, and his parliament. A coup d’état since last July has held a democratically elected president hostage. France has a simple position: We condemn it. We demand the release of President Bazoum and the restoration of constitutional order.”