President Emmanuel Macron of France has announce the recall of the French ambassador from Niger, along with the withdrawal of French military troops in the coming months. This decision positively receive by Niger’s military leaders, who view it as a significant step toward achieving sovereignty. Macron’s announcement comes two months after a coup in the West African nation that led to the removal of a pro-French president.
Recall of the Ambassador and Diplomats
In a televise interview, Macron state, “France has decided to recall our ambassador. In the coming hours, our ambassador and several diplomats return.” He went on to say that military cooperation had “come to an end,” and French forces gradually withdrawn “in the coming months and weeks,” with a full withdrawal expecting “by the end of this year.”
Positive Response from Niger’s Military Junta
The military junta in Niger swiftly respond to Macron’s announcement through a statement broadcast on national television. The statement read, “This week, we celebrate a new step toward Niger’s sovereignty,” referring to the withdrawal of the French ambassador and troops. The junta had seize power by overthrowing President Mohamed Bazoum on July 26.
Ban on French Aircraft and Its Unclear Impact
Reports had emerge that the Nigerien military junta had ban “French aircraft” from flying over the country’s airspace, according to the African and Malagasy Air Navigation Security Agency (ASECNA). However, it remains unclear whether this ban affect the departure of the French ambassador.
Macron’s Emphasis on Peaceful Consultations
Macron emphasize that, “in the coming weeks and months, we consult with the rebels, as we want this to be done peacefully.” He stres that the post-coup government “no longer wants to fight terrorism.”
Background: French Military Presence in Niger
France has maintain a military presence in Niger as part of its counterterrorism operations in the Sahel region. Approximately 1,500 French troops have been station in the country. Macron’s announcement represents a significant shift in France’s military presence in the Sahel region, which has been grappling with extremist violence and insurgencies.
Implications and Diplomatic Shifts
Macron’s decision to recall the ambassador and withdraw troops underscores a notable change in France’s approach to its military involvements in the Sahel. It signals a departure from France’s historical role as a dominant influence in its former African colonies.
This move aligns with Macron’s earlier statements about reducing France’s military footprint in the Sahel. While the decision to withdraw troops could be seen as a response to the coup, Macron’s emphasis on peaceful consultations with “rebels” suggests a broader diplomatic strategy.
The international community closely monitor developments in Niger as it navigates political transitions and its evolving relationship with France. The country’s trajectory carry implications for regional stability and counterterrorism efforts in the Sahel, given its strategic location and the ongoing threat of extremist violence in the region.