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Coup: France withdraws ambassador, military from Niger

President of France, Emmanuel Macron, on Sunday said France will withdraw its ambassador and end all military co-operation with Niger following the recent coup.


According to BBC News, Macron said, “France has decided to withdraw its ambassador. In the next hours our ambassador and several diplomats will return to France.”


He added that military co-operation was “over” and French troops would leave in “the months to come”.


It was gathered that the military junta which seized power in Niger on July 26, 2023, welcomed the move.


In a statement issued on Sunday they said, “This Sunday we celebrate a new step towards the sovereignty of Niger.”


The decision by Paris follows months of animosity and protests against the French presence in the country, with regular demonstrations in the capital Niamey.


Macron said he still regarded ousted Niger President Mohamed Bazoum, currently held prisoner by the coup leaders, as the country’s “sole legitimate authority” and had informed him of his decision. He described the deposed president as a “hostage”.


“He was targeted by this coup d’etat because he was carrying out courageous reforms and because there was a largely ethnic settling of scores and a lot of political cowardice,” he said.


Niger is one of several former French colonies in West Africa where the military has recently seized control – it follows Burkina Faso, Guinea, Mali and Chad. The latest coup was in Gabon in August, 2023.


The Economic Community of West African States had threatened military intervention in Niger to reinstate Bazoum and issued ultimatums but so far it has not acted.


Niger’s military leaders told French ambassador Sylvain Itte he had to leave the country after they overthrew power, however, a 48-hour ultimatum for him to leave, issued in August, passed with him still in place as the French government refused to comply, or to recognise the military regime as legitimate.


Macron’s statement also comes hours after Niger’s coup leaders banned “French aircraft” from flying over the country.


The regional air safety organisation, ASECNA, said that Niger’s airspace was “open to all national and international commercial flights except for French aircraft or aircraft chartered by France including those of the airline Air France”.


The airspace would remain closed for “all military, operational and other special flights”, unless receiving prior authorisation, the message said.


Air France told AFP simply that it was “not flying over Niger airspace”.

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