France to withdraw from Niger only at ousted Bazoum's request: Macron
Macron calls France's position "simple", reiterating that it does not recognize the legitimacy of the junta's statements.
France does not recognize Niger's rebel government and will agree to remove its soldiers only if asked to do so by deposed Nigerien President Mohamed Bazoum, French President Emmanuel Macron said on Sunday.
Niger's military junta has accused France of deploying its forces in some parts of West Africa for a military intervention in Niger, according to AFP, citing regime member Col. Maj. Amadou Abdramane.
On another note, the United States is repositioning its military forces in Niger and withdrawing some non-essential personnel as a precautionary measure following the coup which overthrew Western-backed President Mohamed Bazoum.
"French troops were deployed on the territory of Niger at the request of Niger itself ... France's position is simple: we condemn it [the coup], we demand the release of President Bazoum and the restoration of constitutional order, and we do not recognize the legitimacy of the rebels' statements ... And if we ever redeploy troops, we will do so at the request of President Bazoum," Macron stated at the G20 Summit in New Delhi.
Thousands of people rallied in the Niger capital Niamey on separate occasions to call for the withdrawal of French troops from the country, as requested by the junta that seized power in June.
Protesters gathered near a French military base after several civic organizations issued the call for the withdrawal of French troops from the country.
What happened in Niger?
On July 26, Gen. Abdourahamane Tchiani led a coup d'état in Niger, ousting and detaining ex-President Mohamed Bazoum.
France condemned the coup and reiterated its support for the "legitimate government" of Niger. The coup leaders halted gold and uranium exports to France, blocked French media, and denounced several military pacts with Paris.
In mid-August, they demanded that French forces withdraw from Niger by early September. Mass rallies have taken place in Niger since the coup, calling for the complete withdrawal of French troops from the country.
On August 3, the military government of Niger announced that it was scrapping all military agreements with France, which has 1,500 troops stationed in the country. France has rejected the move, saying that only the legitimate government of Niger can make such a decision.
The military leaders said the agreements had different expiration dates, but one of them, which was signed in 2012, was due to expire within a month.