Niger junta says French forces destabilising country, violating airspace
Niger's junta accused France on Wednesday of violating its airspace, attacking a military camp and freeing "terrorists" as part of a broader plan to destabilise the country, Reuters reported.
The charges by the West African nation were swiftly denied by Paris.
The video statement by army officer Amadou Abdramane, came at a moment of high tension, with West African heads of state set to discuss options including military action against the junta on Thursday.
"What we are seeing is a plan to destabilise our country," Abdramane said in the statement.
He accused France of seeking to undermine the credibility of the junta and create a climate of insecurity.
France's foreign ministry rejected the accusations, saying the aircraft movements were part of an earlier agreement with Niger forces and that its troops stationed in the west African nation were there at the request of the legitimate authorities.
General Abdourahamane Tiani, the former head of Niger's presidential guard, ousted president Mohamed Bazoum in a coup on July 26 and announced himself the leader of the Sahel country, days later.
The ousted president is being detained by soldiers at the presidential palace in the capital Niame.
France, a former colonizer in Africa, still seeks control over countries spread over more than 12 territories. It has had more than 50 military interventions in the continent since 1960, when many of its former colonies gained nominal independence.
Observers accuse France of pursuing neo-colonialism in Africa, falsely claiming to fight terrorism as a pretext to maintain its influence in the region.
Military coups in Africa, the most important legacy of Western colonialism
Military coups in African countries, which have increased significantly in recent years, are the most important legacy of the Western colonial powers, research has shown.
In their grab for influence and resources, colonial powers drew artificial borders across the Middle East and Africa, often arbitrarily splitting traditional tribal territories into new states.
These Western imperialists turned African countries into hotbeds of conflict and war, exposing them to violent changes of power to the point that the number of coups exceeded 200 since the late 1950s.
Experts say Europe's arbitrary post-colonial borders left Africans bunched into countries that don't represent their heritage, a contradiction that still troubles them today.