Tue, 05 Dec 2023

Niger's junta welcomes withdrawal of French troops

25 Sep 2023, 23:44 GMT+10

NIAMEY, Sept. 25 (Xinhua) -- Niger's junta announced on Sunday that it welcomes the withdrawal of French troops from the West African country by the end of the year.

"This is a historic moment that reflects the determination and will of the Nigerien people," said the National Council for the Safeguard of the Homeland (CNSP), a governing body established by the military after a coup in July.

"Any individual, institution, or entity whose presence threatens the interests and aspirations of our country must leave our ancestral land, whether they like it or not," said the statement broadcast on national television.

French President Emmanuel Macron, during a televised interview on Sunday evening, announced the withdrawal of France's troops deployed in Niger by the end of 2023. Macron said that the 1,500 French soldiers stationed in Niger to combat terrorism in the Sahel region would "return in an orderly manner." He also revealed the repatriation of the French ambassador to Niger "in the coming hours."

Following President Mohamed Bazoum's detention by the military on July 26, the CNSP, led by Abdourahamane Tchiani, a former leader of the country's presidential guard, assumed legislative and executive authority.

Relations between Niger and France sharply deteriorated after the coup. France suspended visa issuance in Niger and evacuated its citizens, while Niger closed its airspace to all French-registered aircraft.

The junta had previously demanded the departure of the French ambassador after the coup and ordered the expulsion of the French ambassador at the end of August, but France refused.

Sunday's statement by the CNSP said "The sovereign Nigerien people, unyielding and peaceful, reiterate the firm and non-negotiable principle of the departure of foreign forces. The new era of cooperation based on mutual respect and sovereignty is already underway. Our resistance will be unwavering and will apply to any institution or entity attempting to undermine the higher interests of our nation."

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