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French Army To Begin Niger Republic Pullout ‘This Week’

(AFRICAN EXAMINER) – France said Thursday that it would start withdrawing its troops from Niger this week after a falling-out with the post-coup regime, which insists the exit be carried out in accordance with its “conditions”.

The announcement by the French army follows weeks of tensions between Paris and Niger’s new military rulers, who seized power on July 26.

President Emmanuel Macron, who had sought to make a special ally of Niger, announced on September 24 the withdrawal of 1,400 French troops from the country “by the end of the year”, complying with a demand by the new regime in Niamey.

Macron said that military cooperation with Niger was “over”.

France’s ambassador to Niamey last week also returned home from the West African country after the regime demanded his expulsion.

“We will begin our disengagement operation this week, in good order, safely and in coordination with the Nigeriens,” the military headquarters said.

The French soldiers are in Niger as part of a wider fight against jihadists across the Sahel region.

Around 1,000 soldiers and airmen are deployed at the French base in Niamey.

Another 400 are deployed alongside local troops in Ouallam and Ayorou in northwestern Niger, near the borders with Burkina Faso and Mali.

The “three borders” zone is known as a haven for the Islamic State group.

The soldiers based at Ouallam will be the first to leave, Niger’s military rulers responded in a statement on social media Thursday.

The airbase at the capital Niamey will then be dismantled by the end of the year, they added.


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