France to withdraw its ambassador and 1500 troops from Niger

Paris, France: Emmanuel Macron, President of France, on Sunday, announced that France will end its military presence in Niger and called its ambassador to return as a result of the coup that removed the democratically elected Niger’s president on July 26, 2023.

Responding to Macron’s announcement, Niger’s junta said it signals a “new step towards the sovereignty” of the country. “Imperialist and neo-colonialist forces are no longer welcome on our national territory.

“The new era of cooperation, based on mutual respect and sovereignty, is already underway,” it said in a statement. Meanwhile, President Macron says the pullout is expected to be completed by the end of 2023.

On July 26, 2023, a coup occurred in Niger when Abdourahamane Tchiani, the presidential guard commander-general, overthrew 10th President Mohamed Bazoum and proclaimed himself the leader of a new military junta after confirming the coup’s success. He also detained President Bazoum.

It was rumoured that Russia backed the coup. Elena Pokalova, the Washington-based Wagner expert, stated that there isn’t much evidence that Russia was behind the coup.

She highlighted that the coup was intended to be a personal ambition. Bazoum wanted to replace General Abdourahamane Tchiani, but he made the first move.

President Macron, in a televised interview, remarked that the military cooperation with Niger was over, and those 1500 French troops deployed in the country are anticipated to withdraw in upcoming months. The full pullout will be complete by the end of the year.

France also decided to withdraw its ambassador from Niger. President Macron yesterday announced that the French ambassador and other diplomats will return to France soon.

France’s exit comes after weeks of pressure and various protests from the military and public demonstrations. Since the past weeks, thousands of protestors protested in Niger’s capital Niamey and outside the military base housing French soldiers. The tensions raised due to July’s coup were also the main reason for France’s withdrawal.

Niger’s new rulers welcomed the announcement, calling it a historic step towards the sovereignty of Niger. This comes as France’s troops have been asked to leave its former colonies, Mali and Burkina Faso.

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