No military intervention in Niger – solidarity demonstration

France out of Africa London protest 10 August 2023

By Sonia Dhillon

Over 100 people joined the demonstration outside the French embassy on 10th August 2023, to say “France out of Africa” and oppose pro-imperialist military intervention in Niger. The event extended solidarity and support for the anti-imperialist movements in Niger, Mali, Burkina Faso, Guinea, Senegal and Togo, that are attempting to overthrow French imperialist exploitation in the Sahel region of Africa.

The demonstration took place just as the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) ordered military action against Niger’s new anti-imperialist military government. Such an intervention would be a proxy war by France, backed by the US and other imperialist countries. In Niger, thousands gathered in front of the French military base located in the capital, Niamey, demanding the exit of French troops and stating their opposition to the threatened imminent ECOWAS military intervention.

The “No to Françafrique – No to Imperialist War” protest was organised by DARN-U.K (Diaspora Association of Niger Republic Nationals in the United Kingdom), PASTEF (The African Patriots of Senegal for Work, Ethics and Fraternity) London, the Black Liberation Alliance and other Pan-Africanist groups.

Speaking at the demonstration, Dr Sahidi Bilan, Diaspora Association of Niger Republic Nationals in the United Kingdom said:

“People are fed up and asking France to leave our country and not to get involved in any political affairs of Niger. The current crisis caused by the military coup performed by the military in order to tell the old regime that we are fed up because they were not there to defend the interests of the Niger people but to look after the interests of France. This cannot continue because imagine Niger has more than 80% young people who understand, who have studied here and in France, they understand all the geopolitical strategies. Why is France trying to stay in Niger and not leave? It’s because they want to use our resources. The uranium they pump every single day to keep their economy running, while people in Niger don’t have power…because of this situation Niger is one of the poorest countries but one of the richest in terms of mineral resources. The puppet regime that has been deposed cannot come back again. And now ECOWAS which is a puppet manipulated by NATO actually, is trying to intervene militarily in Niger in order to bring back the old regime which people will never ever accept because people have been suffering for more than 13 years. So we just say no this cannot continue. Enough is enough.”

Former French colonies in the Sahel region are rich in natural resources, particularly gold. Niger and Mali are rich in uranium and gold, Burkina Faso gold, zinc and copper, Guinea and Senegal gold and oil. France profited from these resources prior to the coups in Burkina Faso, Mali, Guinea and now Niger, while large sections of the population lived in poverty.

Esther a young woman from Niger said;

“France has been unfairly exploiting Niger for its uranium for over 50 years. France and it’s allies have deployed thousands of military forces in Niger and the Sahel region of Africa for a pretext to fight terrorism yet they were incapable of fighting a single terrorist. There is so much evidence that they were only there to exploit the resources of the country and not to fight terrorism but to encourage it in order to stay there to continue exploiting their resources. This has caused the death of thousands of civilians and militants in Niger. Many villages have been destroyed and many children have become orphans without education. Colonialism must end now in Niger and all the colonies in Africa. France and its allies must leave Niger and other countries in Africa.”

Niger’s military recently announced it will prosecute deposed President Mohamed Bazoum for ‘high treason.’ Delegations from Mali and Burkina Faso went to Niger to reaffirm support for the new government against outside military intervention. A Mali government spokesperson declared “Our survival depends on it,” recalling NATO’s “adventure in Libya” that created a decade of regional instability. War in Africa would be devastating and must be opposed.

In Senegal, PASTEF leader Ousmane Sonko was recently hospitalised due to a hunger strike after he was arrested and imprisoned and the PASTEF party was dissolved, in an attempt to crush the popular Pan-Africanist anti-imperialist opposition party. Juan Branco, Sonko’s lawyer was expelled from Senegal. Before its dissolution PASTEF sought to defeat President Macky Sall whom it believes allows France to exploit its natural resources.

At the demonstration Myriam Kane from the Black Liberation Alliance and Senegalese, PASTEF London activist said:

“We call for the release of Sonko and all political prisoners in Senegal. We want peace, we to stop the bloodshed, we want the right for Africa to determine its own future & its own resources. The movement in Sahel has the support of the population because they cannot tolerate France’s exploitation of resources such as gold, uranium & oil, while the people suffer. That is why we say France out of Africa!”

She added:

“We are the next generation and we will not bow down to imperialism!..I’m proud of the uprising in Africa against neo-colonialism that is rattling the west, they can only rule us if they divide us. We strongly oppose any military intervention in Niger.”

The movement in the Sahel is the second rising against neo-colonialism and imperialism, following the first wave of anti-colonial movements between 1951 and 1990. All progressive people should support this struggle.