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France commences 1,500 troop withdrawal from Niger this week



France troop scaled

France is embarking on the withdrawal of its 1,500 troops from Niger, with the process set to begin this week.

President Emmanuel Macron’s decision, revealed last month, underscores his refusal to be “held captive” by the coup leaders and his resolve to terminate military cooperation with the West African nation.

Reuters reports that the decision to withdraw 1,500 troops from Niger has left a significant void in Western efforts to counter a ten-year-long Islamist insurgency.

This move also dealt a major blow to French influence in the Sahel and created an opportunity for Russia to expand its dominance over the region’s extensive and insecure terrain.

In a statement on Thursday, the French Armed Forces Ministry confirmed the return of troops to France and anticipates the full completion of the military exit by the close of the current year.

French Ambassador Departure from Niger

It was reported in September that the French Ambassador, Sylvain Itte, left the capital of Niger, Niamey, after a recall order by Emmanuel Macron, the French president.

Earlier, Niger’s military junta had ordered Itte’s expulsion soon after seizing power in a coup on July 26.

The country’s leaders reiterated the order in August, setting a 48-hour ultimatum for Itte to leave.

But France ignored the requests, as the country does not recognize the legitimacy of Niger’s military government. The EU backed France in its refusal to bring back its ambassador.

The decision sparked daily protests in front of the embassy, along with thousands rallying across the capital to demand the withdrawal of French troops.

Niger’s junta stripped Itte of his diplomatic immunity and his visa.

Macron also said Niger’s military was also blocking food deliveries to the building and that Itte was living off “military rations.”

What You Should Know

Niger’s ousted president Mohamed Bazoum was toppled by a military junta on July 26.

The imprisoned leader faces possible high treason charges over his exchanges with foreign heads of state and international organizations, coup leaders have said.

Bazoum, 63, served as foreign minister and interior minister under his predecessor Mahamadou Issoufou, who stepped down after two five-year terms and handpicked Bazoum as the ruling party’s presidential candidate.

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