Niger coup: Why some people want Russia in and France out

Niger coup: Why some people want Russia in and France out

BBC News reports:

In a sign of growing hostility towards the West since the coup in Niger, a businessman proudly shows off his outfit in the colours of the Russian flag in the traditional heartland of deposed President Mohamed Bazoum.

Since the coup, there has been a war of words between the military and the West.

Mr Bazoum was a staunch ally of the West in the fight against militant Islamists, and was a strong economic partner as well.

Niger hosts a French military base and is the world’s seventh biggest producer of uranium. The fuel is vital for nuclear power with a quarter of it going to Europe, especially former colonial power France.

Since General Abdourahamane Tchiani overthrew the president in a coup on 26 July, Russian colours have suddenly appeared on the streets.

Thousands took part in a protest in the capital Niamey on Sunday, with some waving Russian flags and even attacking the French embassy.

It now seems this “movement” is spreading across the country.

The businessman, based 800km (500 miles) away in the central city of Zinder, didn’t want to give his name for safety reasons and asked that we blur his face.

“I’m pro-Russian and I don’t like France,” he said. “Since childhood, I’ve been opposed to France.

“They’ve exploited all the riches of my country such as uranium, petrol and gold. The poorest Nigeriens are unable to eat three times a day because of France.”

The businessman said thousands had taken part in Monday’s protest in Zinder in support of the military takeover.

He said he had asked a local tailor to take material in the Russian colours of white, blue and red and make an outfit for him, denying that it had been paid for by pro-Russian groups.

Niger is home to 24.4 million people where two in every five live in extreme poverty, on less than $2.15 a day. [Continue reading…]

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