Friday prayer in front of the French base near Niamey, the capital of Niger
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France is ending military cooperation with Niger and withdrawing its 1,500 troops, President Emmanuel Macron announced, two months after the African country was ousted in a coup.
The decision, which Paris has so far refrained from, puts European counter-terrorism operations in the Sahel region to the test.
It is the third withdrawal from France’s longtime ally and former colony: in the past two years, the country’s military has left Mali and Burkina Faso, where – as in Niger – it has been fighting jihadist groups.
According to Macron, the deposed military junta in Niger, Mohamed Bazoum, is still considered the legitimate leader by France.
The junta in Niger instructed the police to expel the French ambassador
The withdrawal of the military, according to Macron’s interview with French television, should be completed by the end of the year.
France “will not be hostage to the coup plotters,” he explained, more than a month after the junta announced it was ending military cooperation with Paris. Then the French reaction was that the decision was of an illegitimate government and the country would not comply with it.
The junta in Niger urged the French soldiers to leave, chased four ambassadors
For several weeks, the military has been demanding that the French ambassador leave as well.
The French “quasi-empire” is at stake after the coups in Africa
The military took power in Niger with the argument (again as in Mali and Burkina Faso) of growing insecurity and the helplessness of elected governments in the face of jihadist armed groups. France was a partner in the operations against them.
For now, there is no indication of an improvement in security after the coups in either country.