PARIS- French President Emmanuel Macron announced Sunday that France will end its military presence in Niger and pull its ambassador out of the country after its democratically elected president was deposed in a coup, France24 said.
The announcement is a significant, if predicted, blow to France’s policy in Africa, after French troops pulled out of neighboring Mali and Burkina Faso in recent years after coups there. France had stationed thousands of troops in the Sahel region at the request of African leaders to fight jihadist groups.
France has maintained some 1,500 troops in Niger since the July coup.
In an interview with France-2 television, Macron said that he spoke Sunday to ousted President Mohamed Bazoum, and told him that “France has decided to bring back its ambassador, and in the coming hours our ambassador and several diplomats will return to France.”
He added, “And we will put an end to our military cooperation with the Niger authorities because they don’t want to fight against terrorism anymore.”
He said the troops would be gradually pulled out, likely by the end of the year, in coordination with the coup leaders ‘’because we want it to take place peacefully.”
He said France’s military presence was in response to a request from Niger’s government at the time. That military cooperation between France and Niger had been suspended since the coup, however.