Niger’s military junta has ended several defense cooperation agreements with France, adding to uncertainty about Paris’s continued military engagement in the Sahel region.
(Bloomberg) — Niger’s military junta has ended several defense cooperation agreements with France, adding to uncertainty about Paris’s continued military engagement in the Sahel region.
The decision comes a year after France moved its counter-insurgency forces to Niger following its ouster from neighboring Mali, another West African nation that suffered a coup. A French foreign ministry official said Paris took note of the junta’s communique but did not recognize the legitimacy of the Nigerien soldiers — who overthrew President Mohamed Bazoum on July 26 — to make such a decision.
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“Seeing France’s disappointing attitude and reaction to the situation our country finds itself in, the National Council for the Safeguarding of the Homeland has decided to end security and defense cooperation,” a junta spokesman said in a statement on state broadcaster Tele Sahel late Thursday. Relations with France have deteriorated rapidly since the coup.
Niger also recalled its ambassadors to France, the US, Togo and Nigeria, according to a separate statement.
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Niger has been considered a reliable partner to the West in Africa’s Sahel region, where there’s been persistent political and economic instability. France and the US maintain bases in the country as part of international efforts to fight jihadists, while the European Union has seen the country as an ally in its efforts to tackle illegal immigration from Africa.
France has about 1,500 troops in Niger, where it has engaged in the fight against groups linked to al-Qaeda and Islamic State.
(Updates with French response in second paragraph)
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