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Niger: Regime Responds to News of French Withdrawal

Niger’s military regime have said there should be a “negotiated framework” established with Paris to coordinate the withdrawal of French troops.

The regime leaders were responding to Sunday’s announcement by French President Emmanuel Macron that French troops would withdraw by the end of the year and that the French ambassador to Niger would leave immediately. 

The regime has said they await “official acts” from the French authorities following the announcement. 

There has not yet been any sign that the French ambassador, Sylvain Itté, has left the residence in Niamey. Macron had said Sunday that Itté would return to Paris “within the next few hours”.

Call for French withdrawal

Following the coup in July which ousted elected president Mohamed Bazoum, the regime leaders in August demanded that the French troops withdraw. 

The call came amidst rising anti-French sentiment in the aftermath of the coup. 

The military leaders called the French soldiers’ presence “illegal” and demanded their departure, as well as that of Itté.

An end to military cooperation

France has said it is ending its military cooperation with Niger, because its new leaders “no longer want to fight against terrorism”. 

Niger has been in the grip of jihadist violence for years, with attacks perpetrated by Al-Qaida and Islamic State affiliates. 

France’s last ally in the Sahel region until the coup, Niger continues to face a dire security situation. 

The region has seen an upsurge in violence, according to NGO ACLED, as militant groups seek to take advantage of political instability. 

Niger was the third country to succumb to a coup, following Mali and Burkina Faso who also demanded French withdrawal. 

In the first month following the Nigerien coup, there was a 42% increase in political violence compared to the month prior.