Niger welcomes announcement of French army withdrawal

Niger’s military leadership expressed approval on Sunday for the declaration that France would withdraw its troops from the country by year-end, viewing it as “a new step towards sovereignty”.

The announcement came just hours after French President Emmanuel Macron declared that Paris would recall its ambassador from Niger, with plans for the withdrawal of its military contingent in the coming months.

“This Sunday, we celebrate a new step towards the sovereignty of Niger,” said a statement from the country’s military rulers, who seized power in late July by overthrowing President Mohamed Bazoum on July 26.

“The French troops and the ambassador of France will leave Nigerien soil by the end of the year.”

The statement, read out on national television, added: “This is a historic moment, which speaks to the determination and will of the Nigerien people.”

Earlier on Sunday, prior to Macron’s statement, the African air navigation safety authority (ASECNA) reported that Niger’s military leaders had issued a ban on “French aircraft” from transiting through the country’s airspace.

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