Protesters in Niger demand French troops to leave West African nation
Hundreds of protestors in Niger have taken to the streets of the capital, Niamey, to protest against the presence of French troops in their West African country.
The demonstrators demanded the immediate departure of French forces from their country. Protesters also accused France of sponsoring terrorism in the Sahel region.
Some of the placards read "Get out of the criminal French army" or "The colonial army Barkhane must go" in this demonstration authorized by the municipal authorities of Niamey.
Operation Barkhane is an ongoing operation that started in 2014, and is led by the French military allegedly against militant groups in Africa's Sahel region.
Some 3,000 French troops are still deployed in the Sahel. After withdrawing its forces from Mali, Paris made Niger the new hub of French troops. Nearly a thousand soldiers along with fighter jets, drones and helicopters are based in the capital Niamey.
"There are anti-French slogans because we demand the immediate departure of the Barkhane force in Niger, which is alienating our sovereignty and destabilizing the Sahel," Seydou Abdoulaye, the coordinator of the M62 Movement, which is organizing the demonstration, told AFP.
Last month, Mali’s Foreign Affairs Minister Abdoulaye Diop accused France of supporting “terrorist groups” in his country.
Observers accuse France of pursuing neo-colonialism in Africa, falsely claiming to fight terrorism as a pretext to maintain its influence in the region.
African nations that suffered under French colonial rule still remember France's colonial- era crimes, despite the passage of decades since their independence from Paris.