France to begin withdrawing troops from Niger

France to begin withdrawing troops from Niger

There was a diplomatic fallout between the two countries following a coup in the West African country two months ago.

France refused to acknowledge the new military government in its former colony, leading to protests in the capital Niamey.

After refusing to leave for months, France now seems keen to send the message that it wants to get out of Niger as swiftly as possible.

More than 400 soldiers stationed near the border with Mali will be the first to leave, possibly starting Thursday.

Another 1,000 troops are in a military base in Niamey, where protesters have been camped out for weeks demanding their departure, saying they’ve failed to stop attacks by Islamist insurgents.

There was a decline in deaths from terror attacks in Niger last year, but it’s not clear what part the French played in this while supporting Nigerien armed forces against groups linked to Islamic State and al-Qaeda.

It’s too early to say whether their departure will worsen security.

The US still has a drone base there and Nigerien forces are some of the best trained in the region.

But there have been a number of insurgent attacks since the coup and the departure of foreign forces in neighbouring Mali has led to a dramatic increase in violence.

Western powers have invested millions in security aid to Niger, their last ally in the region.

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