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Niger demands ‘negotiated framework’ for France withdrawal

People participate in a march in Niamey, Niger, on 30 July 2023, in support of a coup that ousted pro-Western former president, Mohamed Bazoum. (Photo by AP)

Niger’s military government has demanded a “negotiated framework” for the French troop planned pull-out from the West African country.

In a statement released overnight, the government said the timeframe for the pull-out “must be set out in a negotiated framework and by mutual agreement.”

The statement came after French President Emmanuel Macron announced on Sunday the withdrawal of France’s ambassador from Niger, and an end to its military presence in the country after he had initially taken a defiant stance.

Around 1,500 French troops in Niger will leave in “the months and weeks to come” with a full pull-out “by the end of the year”, the president said.

The government in Niger welcomed the announcement but stressed that they were waiting for it to be followed up by official action by French authorities.

Relations between Paris and Niamey have been deteriorating since the Nigerien military ousted pro-Western former president, Mohamed Bazoum, in a coup on July 26. 

Paris has refused to recognize Niger’s new rulers and is still demanding the restoration of the ousted president.

The coup against Bazoum was the third of its kind in the West Africa region in as many years, following similar military actions in Mali and Burkina Faso in 2021 and 2022, which also forced the pullouts of French troops, amid a wave of anti-French sentiment across parts of the continent.

The American magazine Newsweek said on Monday that Macron’s latest announcement “could serve as a warning to the United States on its posture in a restive region where Washington is looking to enhance its influence.”

“In terms of the message France’s failure in the Sahel sends, especially to the US, I think, is that making the success of your security policy dependent on venal, corrupt, and illegitimate regimes carries huge risks,” Nathaniel Powell, an analyst at the Oxford Analytica firm, said.

“When and if those regimes are overthrown, their foreign backers are often seen as complicit and can lose their influence,” Nathaniel added.

That comes as the US military resolves to keep almost 1,100 troops in place in Niger and strengthen its presence in Africa.

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