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Niger Coup: President Macron Says France To Withdraw Troops And Ambassador

The President of France, Emmanuel Macron has said France will withdraw its ambassador and end all military co-operation with Niger following a coup.

According to the report, France has 1,500 troops at its base in Niger and refused a request by the new military rulers for its ambassador to leave.

“France has decided to withdraw its ambassador. In the next hours our ambassador and several diplomats will return to France,” Mr Macron said.

He added that military cooperation was “over” and French troops would leave in “the months to come”

The military junta which seized power in Niger in July welcomed the move.

“This Sunday we celebrate a new step towards the sovereignty of Niger,” the junta said, in a statement quoted by AFP news agency.

There are about 1,500 French soldiers in the landlocked West African country helping to fight Islamist militants. The US also has more than 1,000 troops in Niger but these have not been asked to leave.

The decision by Paris follows months of animosity and protests against the French presence in its former colony, with regular demonstrations in the capital Niamey.

Mr Macron said he still regarded ousted Niger President Mohamed Bazoum, currently held prisoner by the coup leaders, as the country’s “sole legitimate authority” and had informed him of his decision. He described the deposed president as a “hostage”.

“He was targeted by this coup d’etat because he was carrying out courageous reforms and because there was a largely ethnic settling of scores and a lot of political cowardice,” he said.

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It was gathered that the  Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) imposed sanctions in the wake of the July coup, warning that it could intervene militarily if diplomatic efforts to return Bazoum to power fail, as a last resort. But ECOWAS stopped its rhetoric as regional countries threw their weight behind the new military rulers.


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