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Crowds camp in front of Niger French army base to press for troop departure

Nigerians perform their Friday prayers in front of the French army base in Niamey

NIAMEY (Reuters) - Hundreds of protesters have been camping outside a French military base in Niger's capital Niamey for the past six days to demand the troops' departure, the latest sign of swelling anti-French sentiment among supporters of a military coup in July.

The demonstration started last Saturday, around five weeks after soldiers toppled President Mohamed Bazoum and seized power in a coup that has been widely condemned abroad but celebrated by many at home.

Relations between Niger and its former coloniser France have worsened since Paris declared the junta illegitimate, stoking anti-French sentiment.

There have been calls for around 1,500 French troops stationed in Niger as part of a wider fight against an Islamist insurgency in the Sahel to leave the country. France has so far rejected this.

Rallies in support of the junta have been recurring since the takeover. But the crowd in front of the French military has swelled and is showing no sign of leaving.

On Friday, protesters celebrated Muslim midday prayers that are usually held in a mosque in front of the base.

"France has never stood by its colonies and helped us. On the contrary, they are here to plunder our resources," said Hassane Aissa Seyni, sitting among other women in headscarves after the prayer.

(Reporting by Abdel-Kader Mazou; Writing by Sofia Christensen; Editing by Alex Richardson)