Niger Announces Withdrawal of French Troops in Three Days
Niger's military regime has formally declared that all French soldiers engaged in Niger will complete their removal from the country by December 22. This announcement marks the conclusion of a complex diplomatic fallout between France and Niger, triggered by the military coup in Niamey in July. People in Niger had protested French military bases in the country and put them under siege.
French soldiers started evacuating some of the military bases in August. The strained relations led to France initiating the complete withdrawal of its troops from Niger in October, following an expulsion order from the leaders of the coup that ousted the pro-Paris president. The demand included the departure of 1,500 French soldiers engaged in counterterrorism efforts and the denunciation of various military agreements with Paris.
After extended negotiations, France agreed to the withdrawal demand. President Emmanuel Macron confirmed in a recent television interview that the evacuation process would conclude by the end of the year. As of the latest update on Tuesday, the Nigerien army reported that the disengagement of French troops is progressing in a coordinated manner and with complete safety.
A detailed report on Niger's national television, Télé Sahel, reveals that "1,346 French troops and 80 per cent of logistical equipment" have disengaged from the borders. Only 157 French soldiers, including 75 logisticians, remain in the country. The withdrawal process began on October 10 with the departure of the first convoy of French soldiers.
The military regime in Niger, which assumed power after the coup, has been gradually severing ties established by the deposed regime with certain Western partners. This includes the termination of two European Union (EU) civilian and military security and defence missions, coinciding with the reception of a Russian delegation. Additionally, Niger has forged closer cooperation with Burkina Faso and Mali, both under military rule, amid jihadist threats in the Sahel region.
Niger was France's one of the main uranium sources for nuclear reactors.