Demonstrators chanted slogans against former colonial power France and West African regional bloc ECOWAS after it promised to reinstate ousted leader Mohamed Bazoum.
Several thousand people demonstrated in Niger’s capital in support of the military coup last month, whose leader warned against outside intervention and proposed a three-year transition of power.
Demonstrators on Sunday chanted slogans against former colonial power France and the West African regional bloc Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), which is considering a potential military operation to restore the elected President Mohamed Bazoum if the ongoing negotiations with the coup leaders fail.
The Sahel state’s new military leaders have officially banned demonstrations, but in practice coup supporters have been allowed to continue.
Demonstrators waved placards saying “Stop military intervention” and “No to sanctions” in reference to financial and trade restrictions imposed by ECOWAS four days after the July 26 putsch.
The latest in a series of pro-coup rallies came a day after Niamey’s new military ruler warned that the attack on Niger would not be a “walk in the park”.
General Abdourahmane Tchiani also said in a televised speech on Saturday that he does not want to “seize” power and that the transfer of power back to civilian rule will not take more than three years.
Ibrahim Yahaya Ibrahim, an analyst at the International Crisis Group, said with the announcement of Tchiani’s three-year transition period that “the ball is in ECOWAS’s court”.
“The transition defines the terms of the negotiations. If ECOWAS insists that the leaders must return the government to civilians and restore President Bazoum then we will probably see a military intervention,” he told Al Jazeera.
The new leaders of Niger accused France, a close ally of Bazoum, of being behind the anti-coup stance taken by ECOWAS, which on Saturday made a new push for the a diplomatic solution.
After ECOWAS chiefs of staff met in Ghana’s capital Accra on Friday, the 15-nation bloc said it had agreed on a date for potential military action.
Despite the threat of intervention, ECOWAS sent a diplomatic delegation to Niamey on Saturday led by former Nigerian leader Abdulsalami Abubakar.
Niger television showed members of the delegation shaking hands with Bazoum, who remains in detention.
It also aired footage of Abubakar talking to Tchiani, but the content of the exchange was not made public.
In his televised address on Saturday, Tchiani said that ECOWAS was “preparing to attack Niger by setting up an occupying army in collaboration with a foreign army”, without told which country he meant.
“If an attack is to be made against us, it will not be the walk in the park that some people think.”
Tchiani also announced a 30-day period of “national dialogue” to make “concrete proposals” to lay the foundation for “new constitutional life”.
ECOWAS leaders say they must act now that Niger has become the fourth West African country since 2020 to suffer a coup, after Burkina Faso, Guinea and Mali.
The bloc agreed to activate a “standby force” as a last resort to restore democracy in Niger.