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Thousands celebrate departure of French ambassador from Niger

Demonstrations in support of coup leaders   -  
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Sam Mednick/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved.


Thousands of Nigerians gathered near France’s military base in Niamey to celebrate the departure of Paris’ ambassador earlier this week, about a month after the military junta ordered him to leave.

But anti-French activists say the battle is not yet over.

"This victory is not, if you like, a total victory for this revolution, it's only the beginning. We call on the entire population of Niger to mobilise as one until the last French soldier leaves Niger, said demonstrator Mohamed Abdou-Latif.

Another activist, Ibrahim Boubacar, agreed.

"We’re overjoyed. But just because the ambassador has gone doesn't mean that we're going to stay at home and say 'It's over, we've won'. No, we are going to continue the fight," he said.

They are now waiting for France to withdraw its around 1,500 soldiers from Niger, which Paris says will take place before the end of the year, in what will be a blow to its influence in the country.

"We are more or less satisfied with the timetable for the withdrawal,” said fellow demonstrator, Issaka Tondi Tassiou.

“Knowing a bit about logistics, it's equipment that has been deployed over 12 years, installation and so on. So dismantling it, packing it up, and taking it away takes time.''

France has kept soldiers in Niger as part of an anti-jihadist deployment in the region.

Meanwhile, the new regime says it is planning its future relations with Paris, the form of which will be dictated by the people of Niger.

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