France Ends Military Cooperation with Niger Amid Protests

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Under the backdrop of a protester bearing a sign stating “goodbye France”, images of unrest in Niamey from last month have become starkly real. French President Emmanuel Macron has unequivocally declared an end to all military cooperation with Niger and the pulling of his diplomatic team.

France, at the order of President Macron, will retract its ambassador and curtail the diplomatic corps, sending them back to France imminently. Macron was explicit in his pronouncement that the realm of military cooperation was finished, with French troop withdrawal slated for the months ahead.

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Greeted by the military junta, who made an unexpected grab for power in Niger back in July, Macron’s decision was welcomed as a doorstep to the sovereignty of Niger. Currently, the West African nation hosts approximately 1,500 French soldiers battling against the tides of Islamist insurgency. The United States also continues its military presence in Niger, which has so far remained unaffected.

This severance suffered by Paris results from long-standing resentment and a tumultuous string of protests against French intervention in Niger, a former French colony. Such a move is likely to deal a severe blow to French campaigns against jihadists within the Sahel region, curtailing the Parisian reach. Still, Macron maintains bold-faced defiance, asserting that France won’t fall victim to the machinations of coup plotters.

In this whirlwind of political tension, Macron continues to acknowledge the deposed Niger President Mohamed Bazoum as the only legitimate authority of the nation. The French president laments the political cowardice that led to Bazoum, a man at the forefront of courageous reforms, becoming an unfortunate victim caught in the crosshairs of an ethnic power struggle and political retaliation.

A trend seems to be burgeoning within West and Central Africa, former French territories, where military takeovers are becoming increasingly common. This comes in the wake of similar incidents in Burkina Faso, Guinea, Mali, Chad, capped by the most recent coup in Gabon. Anti-French sentiments have been festering within the region, with accusations of neo-colonialist machinations being levied against Paris, a charge France strongly denies.

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