Thousands of people backing the military takeover in Niger marched through the streets of Niamey on Sunday, denouncing France, the country’s former colonial power, and waving Russian flags. Protesters set a door at the French embassy ablaze before the army broke up the crowd.
French President Emmanuel Macron said attacks on France and its interests would not be tolerated and that anyone who attacks French citizens would see an immediate response.
The European Union will also “quickly and resolutely” apply the decision of West African leaders to apply economic sanctions on Niger following the military coup, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said in a statement. France and the EU have already suspended security cooperation and financial aid to Niger, calling for the release of elected President Mohamed Bazoum, who has been held by the military since Wednesday. The 15-nation Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) demanded the “immediate release and reinstatement” of Bazoum and his government.
“In the event the authorities’ demands are not met within one week (ECOWAS) will take all measures necessary to restore constitutional order in the Republic of Niger. Such measures may include the use of force. For this effect, the chiefs of defence staff of ECOWAS are to meet immediately,” the bloc said in a statement after a summit in Abuja, Nigeria.
ECOWAS announced the “suspension of all commercial and financial transactions between ECOWAS member states and Niger”, which is part of the bloc, as well as halting energy transactions.
It said it was freezing Niger’s assets in ECOWAS central and commercial banks and imposing a “travel ban and asset freeze for the military officials involved in the coup attempt”. The leaders of Niger’s military coup said earlier on Sunday that they believed regional leaders were on the point of staging a military intervention in the capital of the Sahel country.