Status: 25.09.2023, 00:38 a.m.
French President Emmanuel Macron wants to withdraw French forces from Niger. © François Walschaerts/AP/dpa
At the end of July, the military seized power in Niger. Since then, the putschists have been demanding the withdrawal of French soldiers. Now President Macron is reacting. What does this mean for the Bundeswehr base?
Two months after the military coup in Niger, France has announced that it will withdraw its ambassador and armed forces from the West African country. Military cooperation will be terminated, President Emmanuel Macron said in an interview with TF1 and France 2 television. According to him, the soldiers should return by the end of the year.
At the end of July, the presidential guard in Niger deposed the head of state Mohamed Bazoum in a military coup. The new ruler is General Abdourahamane Tiani, who suspended the constitutional order. The former colonial power France does not recognize the new government - as do other Western and African states.
The very poor African country with its approximately 26 million inhabitants was an important partner for France in its fight against terrorism in the Sahel until the coup. Paris has about 2500 troops deployed in Niger and neighboring Chad. Germany also maintains a military air transport base in the capital Niamey, through which the withdrawal of the Bundeswehr from Mali is currently underway.
French Ambassador Sylvain Itté is also expected to return to France soon, Macron said. At the end of August, the putschists had already demanded that the diplomat leave the country, but France ignored the ultimatum. Since then, according to Macron, the ambassador and his staff have been held as a kind of "hostage".
Macron: Not responsible for the policies of these countries
Macron said in the interview that France was not in Niger to be hostage to the coup plotters. The putschists are friends of chaos. In the meantime, attacks by Islamist jihadists are increasing, which are already costing human lives every day in Mali. He is worried about this region. France had taken its responsibility, sometimes alone, and he was proud of the French soldiers. But they are not responsible for the policies of these countries.
French soldiers in Niamey. French President Emmanuel Macron has announced the end of military cooperation with Niger. © Jerome Delay/AP
As French media unanimously reported, the military government closed Nigerien airspace on Saturday specifically for French aircraft. Prior to this, Niger had actually completely lifted a lockdown imposed for several weeks after the coup on 4 September.
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The former colonial power France had to withdraw its troops after the military coups in the neighboring countries of Mali and Burkina Faso. Niger was considered the West's last ally in the region. Dpa