France to pull troops out of Niger: Macron
STORY: France will pull its 1,500 soldiers out of Niger "by the end of the year", French President Emmanuel Macron said on Sunday (September 24).
That's after the West African country's July coup.
It's a huge blow to former colonial power France's influence, as well as counter-insurgency operations in the Sahel region.
"It will be organized over time, in the weeks to come, but it is the end of this cooperation because we are not here to participate in political life, to be hostages in some way to the putschists."
[Journalist, asking:] "These soldiers, when will they return?"
"They will return in an orderly manner in the coming weeks and months. And there we will consult with the putschists because we want it to happen peacefully."
The move comes after weeks of pressure from Niger's junta and anti-French demonstrations.
It will likely exacerbate Western concerns over Russia's expanding influence in Africa.
The mercenary force Wagner is already present in neighboring Mali following coups there.
Until the military takeover, Niger had been a key security partner of France and the United States.
They had used it as a base to fight insurgents linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State in the Sahel.
Macron has refused to recognize the junta's authority and says he still regards President Mohammed Bazoum - currently held prisoner by the coup leaders - as Niger's legitimate leader.
He has, he said, informed Bazoum of France's decision.
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