France has announced the initial withdrawal of its military personnel stationed in the Niger Republic.
This decision was made following a disagreement with the military junta that has been in power since the coup in late July, Naija News understands. The process of withdrawal of the France troops is anticipated to span a duration of three months.
“We will begin our disengagement operation this week, in good order, safely and in coordination with the Nigeriens,” the military headquarters said in a statement released on Wednesday.
This news platform reports that the announcement comes a week after France’s ambassador to Niamey returned home under pressure from the regime.
Recall that President of France, Emmanuel Macron, had announced on September 24 the withdrawal of 1,400 French troops “by the end of the year,” saying that the Paris soldiers were in Niger as part of a wider fight against jihadists across the Sahel region.
French broadcaster, RFI reports that some 400 are deployed alongside local troops in the northwestern town of Ouallam, near Niger’s borders with Burkina Faso and Mali.
The “three borders” zone is known as a haven for the Islamic State group.
According to the military headquarters, soldiers who are withdrawing from the area will require protection in order to safely leave their exposed forward positions. This may involve receiving air support from the larger force stationed at an airbase outside the capital city of Niamey.
The troops have been living in a state of uncertainty ever since the junta began demanding their departure. They have been facing irregular supplies of food and frequent demonstrations against the French outside the Niamey base.
Following a request from Mali’s military regime, which was born out of a coup, France had increased its presence in Niger. This included the addition of armoured vehicles and helicopters to the already deployed drones and fighter jets.
Now, the French troops will have to withdraw either through Benin to the south, which is in conflict with the junta in Niamey, or through Chad to the east, where France’s headquarters for the Sahel theatre is located.
Currently, Niamey has prohibited French flights over its territory, Naija News understands.
The post Coup: France Withdraws First Batch Of Troops From Niger After Fallout appeared first on Naija News.
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