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Niger military: France concentrates forces in ECOWAS states for ‘intervention’

Coup leaders claim that France is preparing an aggression against Niger. French equipment and troops had been dispatched to Senegal, Ivory Coast and Benin, according to Aljazeera.

Niger’s military has accused France of gathering forces and equipment in several West African countries. They think France wants to launch a “military aggression” against Niamey. This announcement was made late Saturday on national television by a spokesman for the coup leaders, Colonel Amadou Abdramane. He said:

“French “military cargo aircraft have enabled large quantities of war material and equipment to be unloaded in Senegal, Ivory Coast and Benin, to name but a few.”

Following the July 26 military coup, tensions began to rise between Niger and France, its former colonial power. Paris has stood by deposed President Mohamed Bazoum and refused to comply with Niger’s demands to remove its troops and envoy from the Sahel state.

Niger is also embroiled in a standoff with the ECOWAS bloc, which has threatened to intervene militarily if diplomatic pressure to return Bazoum to office fails. Meanwhile, thousands of people demonstrate every day in Niamey around military base housing French soldiers to demand their departure. France has about 1,500 soldiers in the country as part of a wider fight against al-Qaeda and ISIL (ISIS) linked groups.

A French defence ministry source told the AFP news agency on Tuesday that Paris was in talks with the military regime over withdrawing “elements” of its presence in Niger.

The comments appeared to confirm comments made by military-appointed Prime Minister Ali Mahaman Lamine Zeine, who said discussions were underway about a “very swift” departure of France’s troops. Zeine also said that his government wanted “to maintain cooperation with a country with which we have shared a great deal” and added that he was also “hopeful” of coming to an agreement with ECOWAS.

The US Department of Defense said this week that the United States, which has about 1,100 soldiers in Niger, has begun to relocate its troops “as a precaution” from Niamey to the central city of Agadez.

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