South African opposition blasts Nigeria and ECOWAS for taking sides with Europeans on Niger conflict

Nigeria President Bola Tinubu and France President Emmanuel Macron
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The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) has conveyed its “revolutionary wishes” to the people of Niger on the nation’s 63rd year of independence from French colonial rule.

Reports from Niamey, the capital of Niger on Thursday morning suggested that crowds had gathered, expressing support for the military rulers who deposed Niger’s elected president and Western ally, Mohamed Bazoum last week.

Independence Day in the Republic of Niger is commemorated on August 3, marking the nation’s independence from France in 1960.

Earlier this week, African leaders gave the junta in Niger one week to cede power or face the possible use of force, and being slapped with financial sanctions on the putschists, after the latest coup in the jihadist-plagued Sahel region raised alarm on the continent and in the West.

In the third coup in as many years to fall on a leader in the Sahel, the president Mohamed Bazoum, was held by the military which then announced General Abdourahmane Tchiani, head of Niger’s presidential guard, as the head of a transitional government in the West African country.

Last week, Tchiani’s elite military unit detained Bazoum in the presidential palace in the capital, Niamey — a move which sparked an international flurry of condemnation from leaders within Africa and across the world.

This week, the first image of Niger’s ousted president was published online after the coup.

The EFF’s national spokesperson, Sinawo Thambo said developments in Niger are a sign of Nigeriens standing up against France.

“As we commemorate the valiant struggle for liberation from colonisation in Niger, we also acknowledge the current resolute movement of Nigeriens against France. France, after Niger’s independence, continued meddling in Niger’s political affairs for power and control that ensured its thieving of mineral resources remained.

“The Nigerien populace has reached its tipping point against French exploitation of their land and valuable resources, particularly uranium. France has also stationed a military base in Niger,” said Thambo.

The EFF, led by Julius Malema on Thursday expressed solidarity with Niger “as it asserts its independence and pursues genuine emancipation”.

“Yet, we emphasise the importance of a led revolution that stays resolute in liberating our continent from the clutches of western powers. May this Independence Day be etched in Niger’s memory, symbolising lasting liberation from the grip of imperialism,” Thambo added.

International news channel, Al Jazeera reported that the 62-year-old General Tchiani told the nation that the military’s intervention had been necessary to avoid “the gradual and inevitable demise” of the country.

Different nations, including Britain and the US, have announced that they are pulling back their diplomatic personnel in Niger, as a precautionary measure following the toppling of Bazoum.

AFP reported that US President Joe Biden called on Thursday for the immediate release of Bazoum and for the country’s democracy to be preserved.

“I call for President Bazoum and his family to be immediately released, and for the preservation of Niger’s hard-earned democracy,” Biden said in a statement Thursday, marking the 63rd anniversary of Niger’s independence.