Harare — The military government in Niger, which seized control in July, accused France of stationing troops in various West African countries in preparation for “military intervention,” AFP reports.
“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 planning in collaboration with this community organization,” regime spokesman Colonel Major Amadou Abdramane reportedly said in a statement broadcast on national television.
Relations with France, Niger’s former colonial power, deteriorated quickly when Paris supported overthrown President Mohamed Bazoum in the aftermath of the July coup.
The Sahel state is also at odds with the West African group ECOWAS, which has vowed to act militarily if diplomatic pressure to reinstate Bazoum fails.
On August 3, the coup leaders in Niger repudiated a number of military cooperation agreements with France, which has roughly 1,500 soldiers stationed there as part of a larger campaign against militants.
French and Nigerien military officers are discussing a partial withdrawal of certain French military elements deployed in Niger. However, the bulk of French forces in the Sahel will remain in Niamey.
Niger’s junta earlier said it had reopened the country’s airspace to commercial flights. Its airspace was closed on July 26, 2023 after Nigerien officers overthrew the government of President Bazoum.