France to withdraw ambassador and troops from Niger: Macron
French President Emmanuel Macron announces that France will recall its ambassador from Niger, with plans to withdraw its military contingent in the coming months.
French President Emmanuel Macron announced on Sunday that France will summon back its French Ambassador to Niger, Sylvain Itte, along with the entire personnel from the French Embassy in the West African nation.
Macron stated, "The Ambassador in Niamey, along with all embassy staff, will be repatriated to France in the forthcoming weeks or months."
Macron said that France plans to orchestrate the withdrawal of its troops from Niger in the upcoming weeks or months, with the French military personnel returning to France by the conclusion of 2023.
"I held discussions with President Mohamed Bazoum today and conveyed France's decision to recall our ambassador... We will also terminate our military collaboration with the current Nigerien authorities, as their primary focus is no longer counterterrorism. This signifies the conclusion of our partnership. The withdrawal of our troops will be systematically organized over the coming weeks or months, with our troops returning before the year's end," Macron informed TF1, a French broadcaster.
Earlier in August, the new Nigerien government issued an ultimatum for the French ambassador to depart within 48 hours, AFP reported.
In a statement, Niger's Minister of Foreign Affairs revealed that the decision to expel French Ambassador Sylvain Itte was prompted by a series of perceived provocations by the French government.
Notably, the refusal of the French ambassador to engage in a scheduled meeting with the minister and other actions that were deemed contrary to Niger's interests led to this drastic diplomatic measure.
The strained relationship traces back to suspicions that Paris has covert designs to intervene militarily in Niger, to reinstate the ousted President Bazoum.
What you need to know
On July 26, Niger's presidential guard overthrew Bazoum. The guard's commander, Abdourahmane Tchiani, proclaimed himself the country's new leader.
The military chiefs of the Economic Community of West African States met to discuss options for military intervention in Niger. The goal of the meeting reportedly is to outline a plan for the intervention, its strategy, logistical aspects, and timetable.
Correspondingly, military leaders in Niger have warned against any armed intervention in their country, stressing that they will "resolutely defend their homeland."
The interim governments of Mali and Burkina Faso warned that any military intervention against Niger would be considered a declaration of war against them.
ECOWAS has resorted to implementing a full pressure campaign on the country, which included the closure of land and air borders between the bloc's countries and Niger, the suspension of all commercial and financial transactions with it, and the freezing of the country's assets in ECOWAS Central Banks.
The bloc also suspended all financial aid to Niger, froze the assets of the coup leaders, their families, and supporters, and imposed a ban on commercial flights to and from the country.