France to Withdraw Military Presence in Niger Following Coup
President Emmanuel Macron of France has announced that the country will be ending its military presence in Niger and will recall its ambassador in response to the recent coup that saw the removal of Niger’s democratically elected president. This decision comes as a blow to France’s policy in Africa, as it has also had to withdraw troops from Mali and Burkina Faso in recent years due to similar coups.
The junta in Niger views France’s withdrawal as a step towards the country’s sovereignty and has declared that imperialist and neo-colonialist forces are no longer welcome. France’s military presence in Niger had initially been in response to a request from the country’s government. However, tensions had been growing between the two nations, with President Macron even stating that French diplomats were surviving on military rations as they holed up in the embassy.
In response to the coup, the junta leaders have closed Niger’s airspace to French planes, stating their intention to regain control of the country’s skies and territory. The deposed President Mohamed Bazoum also requested that Macron withdraw the French ambassador in order to reduce tension.
Macron explained that France will be ending its military cooperation with Niger because they no longer wish to fight against terrorism. The withdrawal of troops will be carried out gradually in coordination with the coup leaders. France’s military presence had been instrumental in Niger’s fight against violent extremist groups, making their departure a significant loss.
However, activists in Niger remain cautious about Macron’s reliability, expressing reservations about the French government’s commitment to the region. This skepticism is shared by experts who believe that France’s era as Africa’s “gendarme” may be coming to an end, as priorities shift on the continent and former colonies become more resistant to military interventions from their former colonizers.
As a result of the coup, the junta in Niger is now facing sanctions from Western and regional African powers. The loss of support from France, which has been a reliable partner in providing assistance, will undoubtedly be felt in Niger’s fight against violent extremist groups. France has also recently withdrawn troops from Mali and Burkina Faso due to tensions with ruling juntas, and has suspended military operations with the Central African Republic.
As France’s military presence in Africa dwindles, the continent faces new challenges in combatting terrorism and maintaining stability. Only time will tell how these changes will impact the region.
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