Receive free African politics updates
we will send you myFT Daily Digest Email summary of latest information african politics There is news every morning.
France will repatriate its ambassador to Niger “in the coming hours” and withdraw 1,500 troops stationed there by the end of the year to end a diplomatic standoff with the military junta that seized power in the West African country in 2017. July.
President Emmanuel Macron told France 2 television on Sunday night that he had informed deposed President Mohamed Bazoum, who remains under house arrest, of the decisions.
“Our ambassador and several diplomats will return to France,” Macron said.
“We will also end military cooperation with the authorities who are actually in power because they no longer want to fight terrorism,” he said, adding that France would negotiate with local authorities to ensure a “calm and orderly” withdrawal.
According to Agence France-Presse, Niger’s military government welcomed the announcement, calling it “a new step forward for Niger’s sovereignty.” The French withdrawal is “a historic moment that demonstrates the determination and will of the Nigerien people.”
For much of the past decade, France has stationed thousands of troops in the sub-Saharan Sahel region to fight jihadist groups at the request of African leaders.
But a wave of coups in Mali, Burkina Faso and, most recently, Niger have led to the withdrawal of French troops, with coup leaders in these former French colonies ordering the withdrawals.
French special forces left Burkina Faso in February at the request of Burkina Faso’s military junta, and Niger’s military leaders terminated a cooperation agreement with France immediately after the coup.
France’s withdrawal from Niger, a former regional ally under Bazoum, would deal a blow to Western efforts to combat al-Qaeda and Islamic State affiliates in the region. The U.S. military also has a significant military presence in Niger, including a base used for drone operations.
Like the United States and the European Union, France does not recognize the military-led government, the National Committee for the Defense of the Fatherland (CNSP), and still sees Bazoum as the only legitimate democratic leader. For months, Paris has refused to recall its ambassador or withdraw its troops, despite pressure from Niger’s new government.
Tensions between France and Niger have increased recently, with Macron saying French ambassador Sylvain It was being “held hostage” inside the embassy, referring to how he and his team were hiding and surviving on military rations.
In late August, the CNSP gave Ite 48 hours to leave, and Niger’s Supreme Court approved his expulsion and revoked his diplomatic immunity.
Several protests calling for the withdrawal of French troops took place outside a military base in the capital Niamey, where French troops are stationed.
Macron has defended France’s military record in the Sahel and argued the security situation has worsened since the coup.
“We will continue to accompany African countries in the fight against terrorism, but only at the request of democratically elected governments or regional bodies,” he said. “I am very worried about the region.”