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French diplomats and soldiers to leave Niger

French diplomats and soldiers will return home by the end of the year, President Emmanuel Macron announced on Sunday, declaring an end to military co-operation with Niger.

In the next few hours, our ambassador to Niger will return to France.

In late August, the government ordered the expulsion of the French ambassador, but Macron refused at the time, claiming he did not recognise their legitimacy. On 15 September, the French president outlined the critical situation of the ambassador and diplomats.

“We are not here to be hostages to putschists. Food deliveries are being prevented, and they are eating military rations.”

Some 1,500 French soldiers remain in Niger “at the request of countries in the region” as part of an anti-terrorist mission. However, they have not been allowed to leave French military bases since the power change.

With the withdrawal of troops, Macron also announced the “end of military co-operation” with Niger as “de facto authorities […] no longer want to fight terrorism.”

Since the start of the coup, more people associated with Islamist terrorism have been killed in Niger than in the previous 18 months.

The President also praised the efforts of Operation Barkhan, without which “most of these countries would already have been taken over by territorial caliphates and jihadists.”

We will continue to help the African continent in the fight against terrorism. But only if it comes from democratically elected governments.

Macron recognises deposed President Mohamed Bazoum as “the only legitimate authority in Niger, who was elected by his people.”

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