French President Emmanuel Macron (Reuters)
Dubai – Al Arabiya.net
Published on: September 24, 2023: 10:16 PM GST Last updated: September 25, 2023: 02:37 AM GST
Amid escalating tensions between Niamey and Paris since the military coup that the country witnessed, French President Emmanuel Macron announced on Sunday that France had decided to end its military cooperation with Niger and withdraw its forces from the African country in the coming months.
He added in a television interview, “France has decided to return its ambassador and end its military cooperation with Niger.”
For its part, the ruling military junta in Niger welcomed France’s announcement of its intention to withdraw its forces from the country by the end of the year, considering this “a new step towards sovereignty.”
The ruling military regime in Niger had earlier today prevented “French aircraft” from crossing the country’s airspace, according to a message to air crews published, Sunday, on the website of the African Air Traffic and Security Agency.
Paris did not recognize the new authorities
The dispute over the withdrawal of French forces continued between Paris and the military junta that seized power by force at the end of last July in this former French colony.
The Elysee refuses to recognize the new authorities and their decisions, which included canceling military agreements authorizing French military deployment in the sprawling West African country rich in uranium.
Meanwhile, the Military Council demanded the withdrawal of all French forces and initiated a set of administrative and judicial measures to deport the French ambassador who did not comply with a decision that deemed him an undesirable person.
Hoop around French base
Hundreds of security forces and unarmed civilian demonstrators imposed a cordon around the Barkhane base, and the military council isolated the military zone in which the French base is located from the rest of the capital.
Entrance to the French base in Niger (Reuters)
Vehicles are also subject to careful inspection, and French soldiers can no longer go to Niamey’s cafes and restaurants or buy the goods and items they need in Niamey’s shops and markets, as was previously the case outside of military duty times.
The living crisis for French soldiers was exacerbated by the formation of popular mobilization committees by associations opposing the French military presence that confiscated any food and medicine supplies on their way to the base and provided by companies contracting with them.
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