French President Emmanuel Macron made a significant announcement on Sunday, declaring France to end military presence in Niger by end of 2023.
This decision comes in response to escalating tensions between the two nations since a military junta seized control of Niger in July.
In a press conference, President Macron expressed France's decision to cease its military cooperation with the de facto authorities in Niger. He cited their unwillingness to combat terrorism as the primary reason for this drastic measure.
Macron emphasized that France had not recognized Niger's military leadership and continues to regard ousted President Mohamed Bazoum as the only legitimate authority in the country.
We are putting an end to our military cooperation with the de facto authorities of Niger because they don't want to fight terrorism anymore.- French President Emmanuel Macron
The withdrawal of French troops from Niger will be meticulously organized in the forthcoming weeks, Macron assured.
He emphasized the need for a peaceful and coordinated process, even involving the military group that had taken power.
They will come back in an orderly manner in the weeks and months to come, and for that, we will coordinate with the putschists because we want this to happen calmly.- French President Emmanuel Macron
In response to France's decision, Niger's ruling military power expressed its support. In a statement aired on Niger's state television, Tele Sahel, the authorities welcomed the withdrawal of French troops and the French ambassador.
This Sunday, we celebrate another step towards Niger's sovereignty. French troops and the French ambassador will be leaving Niger by the end of the year.- A statement aired on Niger's state television, Tele Sahel
It further emphasized that "imperialist and neo-colonialist forces are no longer welcome on our national territory."
France had stationed military troops in Niger, primarily to assist with counterterrorism missions. This move was based on the belief that Niger, known for its relatively stable democracy, was situated in a region fraught with political instability, terrorism, and Islamist insurgencies.
As of now, approximately 1,500 French troops remain in the country. Macron confirmed that there will be no French soldiers in Niger by the conclusion of 2023.
Earlier this month, two U.S. officials also indicated that the United States could begin withdrawing troops from Niger in the coming weeks, marking another significant development in the region.
President Macron also announced the return of France's ambassador to Niger, Sylvain Itte, to France.
This decision follows a recent incident where Macron revealed that the ambassador was effectively "held hostage" at the French embassy in Niamey, the capital of Niger. Macron stated, "France has decided to bring back its ambassador" along with several diplomats.
People are holding Niger flag and poster against France during a protest.
This move marks the fourth instance in less than two years that France has withdrawn its troops from African nations.
Previous withdrawals from Mali, the Central African Republic, and Burkina Faso have followed disputes with local authorities and increasing anti-French sentiments.
These withdrawals have often paved the way for increased Russian influence and involvement in the region.
In light of these recent developments, the geopolitical landscape in Africa is undergoing significant shifts, with consequences that are yet to be fully understood.
France's decision to end its military presence in Niger by the end of 2023 represents a significant development in the ongoing tensions between the two nations.
President Macron's announcement comes amid growing anti-French sentiment and a changing geopolitical landscape in Africa.
This move follows a pattern of French troop withdrawals from African nations, raising questions about the region's stability and the role of other international actors.
As French and U.S. troops prepare to depart, the future of Niger and the Sahel region remains uncertain, with potential shifts in alliances and influences on the horizon.