EU member states announced on Tuesday they would evacuate their citizens from Niger. Their decision was prompted by mounting concerns over the country’s instability following a military coup. France, Germany, Italy and Spain, represented by their respective spokespersons and ministries, reaffirmed their resolve to begin evacuation operations for both their nationals and people of other EU member states who are currently in Niger as soon as possible.
France has acted swiftly, dispatching two Airbus planes to Niamey, Niger to transport French nationals back to Paris, France. French armed forces also mentioned the possibility of sending a third plane later to help with the evacuation of all people attempting to flee the country. In a coordinated effort, a representative for the German Foreign Ministry indicated that Germany would also work with France to guarantee the safe evacuation of its citizens from Niger. Antonio Tajani, Italy’s Foreign Minister, declared that the country will arrange special flights to rescue its residents in Niamey. Furthermore, the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced intentions to evacuate 70 of its people from the capital city of Niger.
Pro-military demonstrations outside the French Embassy in Niamey heavily affected the decision to begin evacuation procedures. Protestors gathered outside the embassy to oppose France’s post-colonial presence in Niger. During the event, some protestors set fire to the embassy’s entrance.
Meanwhile, Burkina Faso and Mali have indicated their support for Niger’s military takeover. According to a joint statement, “[A]ny military intervention against Niger will be considered equivalent to a declaration of war against Burkina Faso and Mali.” Burkina Faso and Mali also previously overthrew their respective governments in 2022 and 2020.
The joint statement came only a day after the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) issued an ultimatum threatening to use force if the military force did not relinquish authority within 7 days.
Military members took control of Niger’s government on July 27 when they detained President Mohamed Bazoum. Since then, the new military government appointed Army General Abdourahamane Tiani to the presidency. The country’s new ruling council, called the National Council for the Safeguarding of the Homeland, formed from Bazoum’s former presidential guard. The coup has been widely condemned by the international community and continues to draw concern.