French President Emmanuel Macron announced on Sunday that French troops would be withdrawn from Niger in the coming months, following this summer’s coup in the West African country.
Niger’s military withdrawal comes after French troops were driven out of neighboring Burkina Faso and Mali, amid growing anti-French sentiment across the continent and military failures in the fight against jihadist terrorism in the region of the Sahel.
Macron also said France would soon withdraw its ambassador, who has been living under house arrest at the French embassy in Niamey, the capital, according to French authorities.
“France has decided to withdraw its ambassador. In the coming hours, our ambassador and several diplomats will return to France,” Macron said in an interview with French television channels.
Macron also said that military cooperation between France and Niger was “finished” and that French troops would return before the end of the year. “In the weeks and months to come, we will consult the putschists, because we want this to be done peacefully,” he added.
The military junta, which came to power in July, had issued an ultimatum to France to withdraw its troops involved in anti-terrorist operations in North Africa. France then pledged not to withdraw its troops unless ousted Nigerien president Mohamed Bazoum requested it.
1,500 French soldiers are stationed in several bases across Niger.
In the weeks following the coup, France also said it would consider supporting a possible military intervention launched by the African regional body ECOWAS against the putschists in Niamey. With the decision to withdraw, this prospect appears more and more unlikely.