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France to pull envoy, troops out of Niger President Emmanuel Macron

PARIS. – The military leaders in Niger welcomed French President Emmanuel Macron’s announcement on Sunday to withdraw its ambassador and troops from the West African country, two months after a coup that toppled President Mohamed Bazoum.

During an interview with French television on Sunday, Macron announced the withdrawal of the French ambassador and troops from Niger, something that Niger’s military leaders had been demanding after Macron refused to recognize the coup leaders who detained Bazoum on July 26. There had also been mass rallies in Niger calling for French troops to leave their country.

“France has decided to withdraw its ambassador. In the next few hours, our ambassador and several diplomats will return to France,” Macron said in the interview.

Macron did not provide details of his plan, but said military cooperation with Niger was “over” and the 1,500 French troops stationed in Niger would withdraw in “the months and weeks to come”, with a full pullout by the end of the year.

Ten days earlier, Macron said the French ambassador and his staff members were “literally being held hostage” in the embassy, eating military rations with no food deliveries.

Niger’s military leaders welcomed the decision in a statement announced on national TV shortly after Macron’s decision.

“This Sunday, we celebrated a new step toward the sovereignty of Niger,” the statement said.

France’s troops pulled out of Mali last year after a 2020 coup and then withdrew from Burkina Faso in February this year following the ultimatum by coup leaders weeks earlier.

Niger’s military leaders announced an end to military cooperation with France following the coup, saying that Bazoum’s government did not do enough to protect the country from the armed rebellion in the country’s west. Niger was seen as the last Western ally in the Sahel, this semi-arid region which has become the epicentre of jihadi violence. France and the US each station troops in Niger, which is also home to the US’s biggest drone base.

But when France refused to recognise the new military government here, simmering resentment at perceived French interference in Niger’s internal affairs boiled over.

Many Nigeriens believe France has had privileged access to the country’s political elite and natural resources for too long. –

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