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Niger: French withdrawal to take place "this week"

A soldier stands at the Ouallam's military base. 15/07/2022   -  
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BERTRAND GUAY/AFP or licensors


The withdrawal of French troops in Niger is set to begin "this week", according to the French military who made the announcement on Thursday morning.

"We will begin our disengagement operation this week, in good order, safely and in coordination with the Nigeriens," the military chief of staff said.

In response, Niger's military regime said, in a press release published on social media, that the troops' departure will take place under "their conditions" and respecting "their interests". 

The regime added that the soldiers based in Ouallam, in the country's western border region, will be the first to leave, followed by those stationed in the French airbase in the capital Niamey. 

Military coup

The decision to withdraw was announced by French President Emmanuel Macron on September 24, following two tense months between Niger's new leaders and the French. 

Following the military takeover in July, the authorities demanded the departure of the French, amidst rising anti-French sentiment. 

Macron said that the withdrawal will be complete "by the end of the year".

Complex operation

With 1000 soldiers based in Niamey and 400 in Ouallam, the withdrawal operation will not be easy. 

Niger had become the centre of French antiterrorist operations since 2022, after its troops were forced to withdraw from neighbouring Mali and Burkina Faso. 

French soldiers will most likely have to use overland routes to leave, with air routes off limits since Niger banned French aircraft from flying over their territory.

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