France’s Notable Decision
French President Emmanuel Macron has made a noteworthy and expected decision to pull out French troops from Niger and summon the French ambassador in response to the recent coup that ousted Niger’s legitimately elected president.
Impact on French Policy in Africa
This declaration signifies a considerable setback for France’s African policy, following the withdrawal of French forces from Mali and Burkina Faso in response to coups in those countries over the past few years. France had deployed thousands of troops to the region, primarily to combat jihadist groups, at the request of African leaders.
Escalating Diplomatic Standoff
Tensions had been on the rise between France and Niger, a former French colony, in recent weeks. France had stationed approximately 1,500 troops in Niger since the July coup. The French government had refused to comply with the junta’s order for its ambassador to depart, citing its non-recognition of the coup leaders as legitimate.
During a televised interview, Macron disclosed that he had conversed with ousted President Mohamed Bazoum and conveyed France’s decision to recall its ambassador and terminate military collaboration with Niger’s authorities. The gradual withdrawal of troops is anticipated to conclude by year-end.
Macron underscored that France’s military presence in Niger was in response to a request from the Nigerien government at that time.
Suspension of Military Cooperation
Military cooperation between France and Niger has been suspended since the coup. The junta leaders had accused Bazoum’s government of insufficient efforts to safeguard the nation against insurgency.
Diplomatic Tensions on the Rise
In August, the junta gave French Ambassador Sylvain Itte a 48-hour ultimatum to depart. Following France’s failure to recall him by the deadline, the coup leaders revoked his diplomatic immunity. The junta is now facing sanctions from Western and regional African powers.
Accusations at the United Nations
At the United Nations’ annual gathering of global leaders in New York, the military government that seized power in Niger accused U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres of obstructing Niger’s full participation in the event. They alleged that this was done to appease France and its allies.