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Niger: thousands rally to demand withdrawal of French troops

A supporter holds a t-shirt reading "France Must Go" as supporters of Niger's CNSP protest outside the Niger and French airbase in Niamey on September 2, 2023.   -  
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Thousands rallied Saturday, in Niamey to demand that France withdraw its troops from Niger, as sought by the junta that seized power late June.

The protesters gathered near a base housing French soldiers following a call by several civic organizations’ hostile to French military presence in the West African country.

"We are here to express our determination, our commitment and our devotion to getting the French military force and all the military bases on our national territory out of the country," explained protester Amidou Gourou. 

Niger's military regime had fired a new verbal broadside at France on Friday, accusing Paris of "blatant interference" by backing the country's ousted president Mohamed Bazoum.

Early August, the regime announced the scrapping of military agreements with France, which has some 1,500 soldiers stationed in the country to help fight jihadism in the region.

Paris ignored the move on grounds of legitimacy.

The military rulers have also announced the immediate "expulsion" of the French ambassador Sylvain Itte and announced the withdrawal of his diplomatic immunity, stating his presence was a threat to public order.

French President Emmanuel Macron on Monday hailed Itte's work in Niger and said he will stay in the country, despite being given a 48-hour deadline to leave Niger a week ago.

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