France will End its Military Presence in Niger and Bring Back its Ambassador
French President Emmanuel Macron on Sunday announced that Paris will end its military presence in Niger by the end of 2023, CNN reported.
He also announced that he has decided to bring back the country's Ambassador to Niger, Sylvain Itte, to France
The development comes amid high tensions between the two nations since the military junta seized power in Niger in July.
Macron said, "We are putting an end to our military cooperation with the de facto authorities of Niger because they don’t want to fight terrorism anymore," CNN reported.
The decision to end the "cooperation" has been taken "because we are not there to deal with internal politics and be hostages of putschists,” the French President said while referring to the military group. He announced that the withdrawal would take place in the coming weeks.
"They will come back in an orderly manner in the weeks and months to come, and for that, we will coordinate with the putschists because we want this to happen calmly," Macron said.
Asked about the timeline of withdrawal, Macron said that there will not be any French soldiers in Niger by the end of 2023.
Macron also announced that he has decided to bring back the country's Ambassador to Niger, Sylvain Itte, to France. He said, "France has decided to bring back its ambassador," CNN reported.
He further said, "In the coming hours, our ambassador along with several diplomats will return to France." His decision comes over a week after Macron said the French Ambassador was “literally being held hostage at the French embassy." He further said that the “food was prevented from being delivered” to the embassy in Niger's Niamey.
French troops have been stationed in Niger, many of whom were there to assist with counterterrorism missions, on the basis that Niger was a relatively stable democracy in a region that faces problems like political upheaval and terrorism, CNN has reported. Some 1500 French troops have been stationed in Niger.
Notably, France has not recognized Niger’s military authorities and stressed that ousted President Mohamed Bazoum remains the country’s only legitimate authority.
After the coup in July, Niger military junta has asked Sylvain Itte to leave the country. It later revoked his visa and ordered police to expel him. However, the diplomat continued to stay in Niger.
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