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Niger: Thousands Take To Streets Demanding “USA Rush Out Of Niger”

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After the ruling junta further changed its course by terminating a military agreement with the United States and inviting Russian military instructors, hundreds of people staged a protest in the capital of Niger on Saturday, demanding the withdrawal of American forces.

The throng brandished Nigerien flags as they marched through the heart of Niamey, arm in arm, recalling the anti-French demonstrations that prompted France’s military to withdraw from Niger last year following the army’s coup.

One handwritten placard in English said, “USA rush out of Niger,” expressing support for the junta and its decision to cancel an agreement that had let about a thousand American military personnel to operate out of two facilities on its territory in mid-March.

“We’re here to say no to the American base, we don’t want Americans on our soil,” protester Maria Saley declared outside the march.

Prior to the coup, France and the US relied heavily on Niger’s security cooperation as they utilised it as a base for global attempts to quell an Islamist insurgency that had been raging in the Sahel region of West Africa for ten years.

However, the recently installed government in Niger has followed the lead of juntas in neighbouring Mali and Burkina Faso in terminating military agreements with former Western allies, leaving the ECOWAS regional political and economic grouping, and promoting stronger ties with Russia.

The military instructors and equipment from Russia arrived on Wednesday, providing another proof of the junta’s willingness to work more closely with Moscow, which is looking to increase its influence in Africa.

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