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Niger coup leaders accuse France of 'bypassing' border closure

Amadou Abdramane   -  
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The military leader who staged a coup to remove Nigerien President Mohamed Bazoum has accused France of ignoring rules barring people from entering or leaving the country.

It follows an order, referred to as Communiqué Number 3, to close all land and air borders, issued on 26th July.

Colonel-major Amadou Abdramane announced: "It has been noted that the French partner is bypassing this by landing an A401 military aircraft at Niamey international airport [Thursday morning] at 06:30."  

"The CNSP calls once and for all for strict compliance with the provisions of communiqué number 3."

On Thursday, the army gave its support to the coup leaders who have been holding President Mohamed Bazoum in Niamey.

It comes as supporters of the coup gathered in Niamey to call for the departure of what they called "foreign forces" an military leaders called for calm after incidents during demonstrations by its supporters.

Some protesters waved Russian flags and called for strengthened ties with Mali and Burkina Faso.

One demonstrator, Anas Djibril, said: "The foreign forces that are with us, the foreign bases, the people who are squandering must leave us. Niger alone. 

"Our army is an army of reference that made Niger proud in the first Gulf War, that made Niger proud in the first rebellion, the second rebellion and in the sub-region everywhere we are a pride. This army is a source of pride."

Another protester, Hama Maiga, added: "We want them to improve cooperation ties with Mali and Burkina, with whom we share the same common enemy, to combat the terrorism raging in the Sahel."

As crowds took to the streets - some people burning French flags - the coup leaders announced "the suspension of political party activities until further notice".

Earlier, President Bazoum had rejected the coup. "The hard-won gains will be safeguarded. All Nigeriens who love democracy and freedom will see to it," he declared on Twitter.

In a press release, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) said it "demands the immediate release of President Mohamed Bazoum, who remains the legitimate and legal President of Niger recognised by ECOWAS.".

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