Niger Junta says France deploying forces for military intervention
Niger's coup leaders allege that France is amassing troops, weaponry, and equipment in nearby West African nations, potentially signaling military intervention.
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.
During a television broadcast on Niger's national television, the news agency quoted Abdramane saying that "France continues to deploy its forces in several ECOWAS [Economic Community of West African States] countries as part of preparations for an aggression against Niger, which it is planning in collaboration with this community organization."
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.
The officials, however, declined to provide details on the troop movements and the evacuation effort.
The United States had 1,100 troops deployed to Niger before the recent departures.
Additionally, reports indicated that France began talks with Nigerien officials regarding the withdrawal of their troops from the country.
French sources reported that "discussions on the withdrawal of certain military elements have begun." At this point, neither the number of soldiers involved nor the circumstances of this departure have been officially agreed, but the idea has been accepted, according to the report.
Thousands of people rallied in the Niger capital Niamey 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 that the agreements had different expiration dates, but one of them, which was signed in 2012, was due to expire within a month.