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Niger: Opposition, civil society groups welcome end of French Barkhane operation

Demonstrations against French Barkhane force   -  
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BOUREIMA HAMA/AFP or licensors -

Niger

In Niamey, the Nigerien capital, reactions are mixed after the official announcement of the end of the operation of the French anti-jihadist Barkhane force, part of which has redeployed to Niger after leaving neighbouring Mali. Operation Barkhane "is a force that is at the root of the advent of terrorism in the Sahel... it cannot be a solution" says Seydou Abdoulaye, head of a pan-African NGO in Niger.

"We have said in black and white that we do not need the presence of the French Barkhane force in Niger. Because it is a force that is at the root of terrorism in the Sahel, it is at the root of the problem, it cannot be a solution and responsible for the problem." he added.

Some civil society actors and opposition politicians have also welcomed the move. The departure of the French soldiers had already been demanded through demonstrations and accompanied by an ultimatum from the M62. But the NGO Tournons la page believes that this is only a change of strategy on the part of the French authorities.

"They (Barkhane soldiers -ed) can be transferred to the Takuba Task Force, they can be... Having a new name, a new operation in the Sahel, so it doesn't change anything" says Maïkoul Zodi, coordinator of the NGO Tournons la Page. "For us it's still the same soldiers who are there, it's the same bases that will be there, we do not want these bases because until now we have not had convincing results. We wonder why they insist on staying in the Sahel." Zodi stressed.

For the moment, the French president's announcement of the end of Barkhane and the reduction of the French military presence in Africa has not led to any official reaction from the Nigerien authorities or the political parties of the ruling majority.

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