Last month's coup in Niger is the third to have taken place in Africa's Sahel region in recent years, following the overthrow of governments in neighboring Mali and Burkina Faso, with France's relationship with its former colonies now thrown in the spotlight, analysts have said.
The pro-Western Mohamed Bazoum became Niger's president in 2021 before being deposed by General Abdourahamane Tchiani, with the resulting instability causing international concern.
The 2022 edition of the United Nations' Human Development Index, which quantifies a country's "average achievement in three basic dimensions of human development: A long and healthy life, knowledge, and a decent standard of living", had Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso all in its 10 lowest ranked countries, despite the Sahel being one of the world's richest regions in terms of resources such as oil, gold and uranium.
France generates much of its energy from nuclear power, and Niger was its second-largest supplier of uranium last year, French newspaper Le Monde reported.
There are also close to 1,500 French military personnel in Niger, and more in neighboring Chad, fighting alongside local forces against Islamic extremists. Niger is also the base for a significant United States military presence, engaged in the same mission.
However, the message from Niger's military leaders, who have closed the country's airspace, is antagonistic toward France, seemingly fueled by past grievances, and posing major questions for the authorities in Paris.
Catherine Norris-Trent, senior reporter for French news network France 24, said the military had "put out a statement accusing France of … having a plan to destabilize Niger, of breaching its airspace by flying in a military plane from Chad, and of releasing and supporting terrorists in the country as well as attacking a guard post".
The French government rejected the allegations.
"France firmly denies the new unfounded accusations by the putschists in Niger," said a joint statement by the French defense and foreign ministries.
Currency is another area of enduring French influence, with 14 countries in western and central Africa, including Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger, using the franc of the Financial Community of Africa, or CFA franc.
"More than simply a currency," wrote Senegalese economist Ndongo Samba Sylla and French journalist Fanny Pigeaud in their book Africa's Last Colonial Currency. "The CFA franc allows France to manage its economic, monetary, financial and political relations with some of its former colonies according to a logic functional to its interests."
The shock wave of events in Africa has clearly reached Paris — the roots of many contemporary issues linked to France's relationship with Africa may lie in its past but they could play a major role in shaping its future, analysts said.