French President Emmanuel Macron rejected a demand by Niger’s military rulers to withdraw its troops from the West African nation after a coup strained relations between the two countries.
(Bloomberg) — French President Emmanuel Macron rejected a demand by Niger’s military rulers to withdraw its troops from the West African nation after a coup strained relations between the two countries.
“If we redeploy, I would do it only at the request of President Bazoum,” Macron said, referring to Niger’s ousted leader, as the G-20 summit wrapped up in New Delhi, India, on Sunday. “We don’t recognize any legitimacy in the declarations from the putschists.”
His comments came after the ruling junta said France was ignoring its request for the 1,500 French troops stationed in Niger to leave the country by Sept. 3. Nigerien and French military officers met earlier this month to discuss a plan for a French troop withdrawal from Niger, a junta spokesman said late Saturday. No progress has been made on implementing the plan, Colonel-Major Amadou Abdramane said in a statement on public broadcaster Tele Sahel.
Tensions between Niger and its ex-colonial power have grown since the junta ousted President Mohamed Bazoum in a July 26 coup and severed military ties with France. Macron has said he would back a decision by the Economic Community of West African States to use force to restore democracy — though the regional bloc has backed off the threat and said diplomacy is its priority.
Abdramane also said France was deploying troops in several West African countries as part of preparations for a possible regional military intervention aimed at ousting the junta.
“France continues to deploy its forces in several Ecowas countries as part of preparations for an attack on Niger in collaboration with the regional bloc,” Abdramane said.
A spokesman for the Ecowas Commissioner said he wasn’t authorized to speak on the matter. An Ivory Coast defense ministry spokesman wasn’t aware of any troop movements.
The junta has called for continued protests until the French soldiers leave Niger.
“The mobilization must continue, it must continue until the departure of the French troops,” Army Chief of Staff and junta member General Moussa Barmou said in an address to protesters broadcast on Tele Sahel late Sunday. “We remain united in our fight to regain our independence.”
Read more: Niger Junta Expects Rapid French Troop Withdrawal Amid Talks
–With assistance from Ania Nussbaum.
(Updates with junta calling for protests against French from penultimate paragraph.)
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