The President of Niger asks France to open an investigation following the clashes during the passage of a convoy from Barkhane

Nigerien President Mohamed Bazoum has asked France to open an investigation into the clashes that took place at the end of November on the route of the military convoy of the Barkhane force. According to a report drawn up by Niamey, three people were killed and 17 others wounded, in shootings attributed to the Nigerien forces by some, French by others.

“Regarding the French soldiers, I demanded that the French authorities open an investigation with a view to punishing those who have been guilty of reprehensible acts”, explained the Nigerien president in a radio and television message on the occasion of the 63rd anniversary of the proclamation of the republic in this former French colony.

This French military convoy, which left the Ivorian economic capital Abidjan, was to join Gao in Mali, as has happened frequently since the start of the French intervention in the Sahel in 2013. But it has become a symbol of hostility to armed engagement. from France to the Sahel, which is growing in Mali, Burkina Faso and therefore in Niger, among populations exasperated by jihadist violence that has become omnipresent.

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It was first stranded and graveled in Kaya, in central Burkina Faso, before resuming its journey a few days later and being again interrupted by angry protesters in Téra, in western Niger. Three of them were killed in gunfire, the origin of which remains uncertain. At the time, the Nigerien interior ministry explained that “Very violent demonstrators” had blocked the convoy under escort of the Nigerien gendarmerie. He added, without specifying whether he was referring to the gendarmerie or the Barkhane force, that “In her attempt to free herself, she used force”. The convoy was finally able to head back to Gao.

“Unfortunate dysfunctions”

According to Mohamed Bazoum, “Unfortunate dysfunctions” from “Law enforcement device” was “Largely insufficient” for “Ensure the passage of the French military convoy”, are at the origin of these clashes. He also claimed to have “Ordered an investigation” by the “Competent services” nigerians “In order to identify these dysfunctions and locate the different responsibilities”.

Following these incidents, the Nigerien president changed the interior minister, Alkache Alhada, as well as the senior commander of the national gendarmerie, General Salifou Wakasso, without giving an explanation.

Niger faces regular and deadly attacks by jihadist groups linked to Al Qaeda and ISIS in the Sahel in the west, and those by Boko Haram and ISIS in West Africa (Iswap ) in the southeast.

Bordering Burkina Faso and Mali, it is a regular crossing point for the French force which will lighten its footprint by reducing its workforce from more than 5,000 today, to 3,000 in mid-2022.

Unlike relations between France and Mali, which have become strained in recent months, relations between Niamey and Paris are good. Mohamed Bazoum had even expressed, while the convoy was going to arrive in Niger his « reconnaissance » towards France whose « sacrifices ».

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The World with AFP

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The President of Niger asks France to open an investigation following the clashes during the passage of a convoy from Barkhane