France and Italy announce evacuation of citizens from Niger

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Following the military coup and subsequent attacks on the French embassy in Niamey, France will begin evacuating its nationals from Niger on Tuesday, according to the Foreign Ministry in Paris.

The French authorities also declared on Tuesday that they were assisting in the evacuation of individuals from other European nations from Niger.

The decision was made in response to the “situation in Niamey,” according to the ministry, and the closing of Niger’s airspace leaves its “compatriots without the possibility of leaving the country by their own means.”

On Tuesday, the Italian government stated that it would return residents from Niamey.

According to Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani, the government will provide a “special flight” for the evacuation mission.

Following last Wednesday’s military coup, which removed and imprisoned President Mohamed Bazoum, anti-French rallies were conducted outside France’s embassy in Niamey on Sunday.

The coup leaders described their actions as a way to protect the country from a “deteriorating” security environment as well as “poor economic and social governance.”

France, which maintains 1,500 troops and a drone base in Niger to help battle the country’s terrorist insurgency, has condemned the coup and has maintained that it recognized Bazoum as the country’s sole legal leadership.

The junta chiefs accused Paris on Monday of plotting a military strike on the presidential palace to release the jailed leader.

French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna responded that the “accusations made since are baseless.”

The West African regional body ECOWAS condemned the coup and set a seven-day deadline for the junta to reinstall Bazoum. If the group’s demands are not met, it has vowed to “take all measures necessary to restore constitutional order in the Republic of Niger,” including the use of force.

Meanwhile, neighboring Mali and Burkina Faso’s military regimes have advised the West and other African countries not to intervene in Niger.

In a joint statement issued on Monday, Mali and Burkina Faso said that any such action would be deemed an attack on their respective countries.

“Any military intervention against Niger would be tantamount to a declaration of war against Burkina Faso and Mali,” they said.