Niger: Macron orders French troops and ambassador home after coup

After a coup in Niger, French President Emmanuel Macron has said that France will recall its ambassador and terminate any military cooperation with the country.

The French government has decided to recall their ambassador. The president announced that “in the next hours our ambassador and several diplomats will return to France.”

He also said that military cooperation was “over” and that French forces will be leaving in “the months to come.”

On July 26, a military coup overthrew the government of Niger and ousted President Mohamed Bazoum.

Months of resentment and protests in the capital Niamy against the French presence in the country led to this decision.

The decision represents a major setback for French counter-terrorism efforts in the Sahel and for France’s regional clout, but President Macron assured the French people that France will “not be held hostage by the putschists” in an interview with TF1 and France 2 television.

Approximately 1,500 French soldiers are stationed in Niger.

Mr Bazoum is now being held by the coup leaders, but French President Emmanuel Macron has stated that he still considers Bazoum to be the “sole legitimate authority” of the country. He used the word “hostage” to refer to the former president.

“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 explained.

After Mr. Bazoum was deposed on July 26, military leaders in Niger informed French Ambassador Sylvain Itte that he had to leave the country.

The French government declined to comply with a 48-hour deadline for him to depart in August, and they also refused to recognize the military authority as legitimate.

Hours before to Mr. Macron’s remarks, coup leaders in Niger had forbidden “French aircraft” from flying over the country.

ASECNA, a regional organization responsible for ensuring the safety of the skies, has declared that all commercial flights, both domestic and international, are welcome in Niger, with the exception of those operated by or chartered to the French government or any French carrier.

The notice stated that “all military, operational, and other special flights” were prohibited from using the airspace without prior authorization.

When asked by the AFP news agency, Air France simply stated, “not flying over Niger airspace.”

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