“France has decided to withdraw its ambassador. In the next hours our ambassador and several diplomats will return to France, And we will put an end to our military cooperation with the current Niger authorities…,” Macron told France-2 television in an interview on Sunday.
Emphasizing that military cooperation between the two countries is finished, he noted that around 1,500 French troops in Niger will leave in “the months and weeks to come” with a full pullout “by the end of the year.”
“It will be organized in the coming weeks, but it’s the end of this cooperation [between the two countries] because we are not there to participate in political life (of Niger),” Macron said.
Hours later, Niger’s military government issued a statement, welcoming France’s announcement about pulling its ambassador and troops out of the country as “a new step towards sovereignty.”
“This Sunday, we celebrate a new step towards the sovereignty of Niger,” it said.
“The French troops and the ambassador of France will leave Nigerien soil by the end of the year,” the statement noted, adding, “This is a historic moment, which speaks to the determination and will of the Nigerien people.”
Niger’s military ousted pro-Western former president, Mohamed Bazoum, in a coup on July 26. Since then, relations have been deteriorating between Paris and Niamey due to the former’s refusal to recognize Niger’s new rulers and its support for the ousted president.
The coup against Bazoum was the third of its kind in the West Africa region in as many years, following similar military actions in Mali and Burkina Faso in 2021 and 2022, which also forced the pullouts of French troops.
During his Sunday interview, Macron reaffirmed France’s position that Bazoum remained the “sole legitimate authority” in the West African country, claiming that “he was targeted by this coup d’etat because he was carrying out courageous reforms.”
Last month, Niger’s military leaders declared French ambassador Sylvain Itte persona non grata and revoked his diplomatic immunity.
However, after a 48-hour ultimatum for him to leave passed, the French government refused to comply, saying it did not recognize the authority of Niger’s military government.