A group of around two dozen people gathered at Niamey’s airport on Monday to welcome Kemi Seba, a Franco-Beninese activist renowned for his outspoken criticism of France’s colonial legacy in West Africa. Seba, who leads the Urgence Panafricaniste movement, is expected to hold rallies in support of Niger’s military authorities.
Seba’s visit coincides with France’s announcement that it will withdraw its forces and envoy from Niger before the year’s end, despite initially pledging to retain its ambassador in the Sahel country. This move has sparked discussions and debates about France’s role in the region.
“It is crucial for the people of Niger to understand that while France appears to be willing to leave, it is actually a strategy on their part to buy time,” expressed Seba, who serves as the President of the NGO Urgences Panafricanistes. “The people of Niger have called for the prompt departure of the French army, but Macron, in his colonial arrogance, claims that the French army will leave by the end of the year, as if it were his decision to determine when the colonizers should pack up and leave.”
Seba also directed strong words towards the regional bloc ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States), which has threatened military intervention in Niger. He criticized the ECOWAS leaders for persistently posing a threat to Niger, seeking to attack the country and impose inhumane sanctions on its population.
“The leaders of ECOWAS want to continue to intimidate Niger, aiming to commit a crime against humanity by imposing harsh sanctions on the people. We must unite and mobilize because the war is ongoing. It is an economic war, a suffocation war, and we must stand together to resist. That is why we have come to stand by your side and remind you that Niger is not alone,” Seba asserted.
With approximately 1,500 troops stationed in Niger, France’s decision to withdraw its forces signals the country’s increasing isolation in West Africa, according to experts. The development raises questions about the future dynamics and relationships in the region.
Kemi Seba’s presence in Niger highlights the continuing dialogue and activism surrounding France’s colonial history and its current involvement in African nations. His visit is anticipated to amplify discussions regarding Niger’s military authorities and the country’s path forward as it navigates changing regional dynamics.