French military convoy blocked in Niger: causes of death of three demonstrators remain unknown

In December 2021, the Nigerian president had demanded an investigation into the clashes which had broken out, at the end of November, at the passage of a convoy of the operation “Barkhane”.

Le Monde with AFP

Surveys carried out by Niger and France did not make it possible to determine the circumstances of the death of three demonstrators during clashes, at the end of November 2021, in passing a convoy of the “Barkhane” operation near the Burkina Faso and Mali announced the Nigerian government on Tuesday, May 17, in a press release.

This military convoy left for Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, to join Gao, Mali, had first been blocked and sheltered by demonstrators in Kaya, in the center of Burkina Faso. The convoy had resumed its journey before being interrupted again by angry demonstrators in Téra, in western Niger. Three of them had been killed by shots attributed to Nigerian or French forces.

On December 17, 2021, the Nigerian president Mohamed Bazoum “demanded from the French authorities” an investigation into the clashes and “ordered an investigation” in Niger. “The exploitation of the results of the investigation of the gendarmerie of Niger and the French army not having made it possible to identify the exact course of the events which caused the death and the injuries of the demonstrators, Niger and France have decided to ensure the compensation of the families of the victims as well as the injured, “said the press release from the Nigerian Interior Ministry. The amount of this compensation, “in equal parts” between the two countries for each of the victims, has not been revealed.

“serious failures of the order to maintain order”

In an interview with newspapers La Croix and l’Obs published Wednesday, President Bazoum declares that he is not satisfied with the French investigation, which “consisted in saying that the French army had proceeded to summons with lethal weapons. She concluded that her soldiers had not killed”. However, “it is probably the lethal means used by the French army, for the purpose of summons, which had the effect of reaching a certain number of demonstrators and killed three of them, of children,” he said .

“But”, he adds, “if France has a share of responsibility, Niger too. We had engaged forces to maintain order and they were not effective. The French had to free themselves, they had to use lethal means which could cause death “.

The investigation led by the Nigerian gendarmerie “highlighted serious failures of the order to maintain order provided to manage this situation” by Niger, which “led the French army to resort to force To get out of the pressure from the demonstrators, “said the statement of his government. “The investigation carried out by the French army, on the other hand, while recognizing the appeal by the convoy to the force to extricate themselves from the crowd which threatened it, concludes that the facts took place under regulatory conditions by the means of summons, “he adds.

In addition to the three demonstrators killed, seventeen civilians, seven Nigerian gendarmes and seven French soldiers had been injured, the text said. Following these incidents, the Nigerian president had replaced his Minister of the Interior, Alkache Alhada, as well as the high commander of the National Gendarmerie, General Salifou Wakasso.

Paris and Niamey “welcome their collaboration in this particularly sensitive file” and “rejoice in the solution obtained”, welcoming “the memory of deceased”, said the press release.

/Media reports.