Niger wants ‘negotiated framework’ for French army pullout

Niger’s coup leaders are demanding a “negotiated framework” for former colonial ruler France to withdraw its troops, which Paris says will be completed by the end of the year.

The new military regime said in a statement read out on national TV late on Monday that the timeframe for the pullout “must be set out in a negotiated framework and by mutual agreement”.

On Sunday, French President Emmanuel Macron announced that Paris would withdraw its ambassador from Niger, followed by the French military contingent in the coming months – both demands of the post-coup regime in Niamey.

“Regarding the ambassador, we have no comment to make about the modalities of his return”, French Foreign Ministry spokesperson Anne-Claire Legendre said on Tuesday.

“The release of President Bazoum is a priority,” she added.

Macron, who had sought to make a special ally of Niger, said military cooperation was “over” and French troops would withdraw in “the months and weeks to come” with a full pullout “by the end of the year”.

France keeps about 1,500 soldiers in its former West African colony as part of an anti-militant deployment in the Sahel.

The coup against Bazoum was the third such putsch in the region in as many years, following similar actions in Mali and Burkina Faso in 2021 and 2022.

They too forced the pullouts of French troops.

Niger’s rulers, who have welcomed the announcement by France, said they were waiting for it to be followed up by official actions from the French authorities.

“This is a historic moment, which speaks to the determination and will of the Nigerien people,” the country’s military rulers said in a statement, read out on national television.

There has been no apparent signs of movement around France’s embassy in Niamey since late Sunday indicating the departure of its ambassador Sylvain Itte.

Will of the Nigerian people

France has not recognised the authority of the military leaders and is still demanding Bazoum’s restoration.

On August 3, the coup leaders renounced several military cooperation agreements with France, before qualifying as “illegal” the presence of French troops on its soil.

Later that month, they ordered France’s ambassador to leave the country. Paris responded that only Bazoum’s deposed government could order him out.

Tens of thousands of people have joined demonstrations and gatherings in the Niger capital Niamey in recent weeks calling for the withdrawal of French troops from the country.

The United States, which has some 1,100 military personnel in Niger, has said it will “evaluate” its future steps on the crisis following France’s announcement.

Niger is battling two insurgencies – a spillover in its southeast from a long-running conflict in neighbouring Nigeria, and an offensive in the west by militants crossing from Mali and Burkina Faso.

On Tuesday, Niger’s armed forces said two civilians were killed after a homemade bomb exploded in Ouro Djaladio, in the Tillaberi tri-border area where Niger meets Mali and Burkina Faso.

They also said they had detained about 20 “suspects” in the area during several operations carried out between September 11 and 16.



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