Tens of thousands of protesters gathered in front of a French military base in Niamey, the capital of Niger, Saturday, demanding the departure of its forces, in the wake of the military coup, which enjoyed wide popular support, but which Paris refuses to recognize.

The coup, which took place on July 26, alarmed the world powers, who fear a shift towards military rule in West and Central Africa, which has witnessed eight coups since 2020.

The most affected country is France, whose influence over its former colonies in West Africa has waned over the past years with increasing public criticism.

Neighboring Mali and Burkina Faso expelled French forces after two coups in those two countries, reducing their role in the war against a militant rebellion that has claimed many lives in the region.

Anti-French sentiment has been running high in Niger since the coup, but flared up last week when France ignored the junta’s order to leave its ambassador, Sylvain Etty.

The military council in Niger said that the police had been instructed to expel him.

Protesters slaughtered a goat dressed in the French flag in front of the military base, Saturday, and carried coffins draped with the French flag in front of a row of Nigerian soldiers; others held banners calling for France to leave.

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