French troop withdrawal from Niger will begin with 400 soldiers in southwest – Niger junta

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Following France’s announcement that it will begin its military withdrawal this week, the junta in Niger said late on Thursday that 400 French soldiers stationed in the town of Ouallam in the country’s southwest would be the first to depart the nation.

It announced in a statement played out on national radio that an aerial base in the nation’s capital Niamey, where the bulk of French soldiers are stationed, will be taken down by the end of the year.

Following President Emmanuel Macron’s declaration last month that he was discontinuing military cooperation with the West African nation and refused to be “held hostage” by the putchists, France said this week that it would start removing its troops from the coup-torn nation of Niger.

The decision to withdraw 1,500 troops from Niger, where the military seized power on July 26, creates a huge vacuum in Western attempts to quell a ten-year Islamist insurgency in the Sahel, and it has a negative impact on France’s standing there.

The junta in Niger promised to make sure the departure was done safely, in good order, and “respecting our interests and conditions.” The public was urged to exercise caution during this “transition period.”

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