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Updated December 23rd, 2023 at 17:40 IST

France withdraws troops from Niger ending years of military presence in former colony

After facing significant resistance in Niger, France completed the withdrawal of its troops from the African nation on Friday.

Digital Desk
French soldiers disembark from a U.S. Air Force C130 cargo plane at Niamey, Niger base
French soldiers disembark from a U.S. Air Force C130 cargo plane at Niamey, Niger base | Image:AP
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After facing significant resistance in Niger, France completed the withdrawal of its troops from the African nation on Friday. According to ABC News, the troops were asked to leave by the country’s new Junta and the move has ended France’s years of ground military presence in the region. Meanwhile, the French Army General Staff told The Associated Press by email that France had already announced earlier this week that it would close its diplomatic mission in Niger for an “indefinite period”.

Following the announcement, French President Emmanuel Macron said that the country would continue to remain involved in the Sahel region. The Sahel area is a vast expanse located at the south of the Sahara Desert and has been a hotspot for violent extremism. “I decided on some important reconfigurations,” the French President said during his visit to a base in Jordan.  “We will continue to protect our interests over there but our armies won’t be as present permanently, will be less stationary and also less exposed,” he added. December 22 was set up as a deadline by the Junta to remove the French military aircraft and troops from the country.

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Junta called it a ‘new ear’

Celebrating the withdrawal of the French troops, the Niger junta called it the start of a new era” for Nigeriens. “Niger stands tall, and the security of our homeland will no longer depend on a foreign presence,” the military establishment said in a statement.  “We are determined to meet the challenges before us, by consolidating our national military and strategic capabilities,” the group furthered. This is not the first time France has withdrawn its military presence from the foreign land in recent history. France completed its full withdrawal of troops from Mali in August 2022. In February this year, the European nation ended its military cooperation with Burkina Faso. Both nations succumbed to coups conducted by military juntas.

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After severing ties with France, a report stated that the nation’s junta led by Gen. Abdourahmane Tchiani is attempting to establish defence cooperation with Russia. Moscow’s private mercenary Wagner Group is already active in parts of Africa but faces an uncertain future there following the death of its leader, Yevgeny Prigozhin. Not only this Tchiani also formed a security alliance with the military governments in Mali and Burkina Faso to coordinate counterterrorism operations across the Sahel.

With inputs from the Associated Press.

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Published December 23rd, 2023 at 17:40 IST

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