Takeover of French Embassy in Niger Sparks Negotiated Withdrawal

Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images

French President Emmanuel Macron announced Sunday that France will be ending its military presence in Niger and pulling its ambassador out of the country after its democratically elected president was deposed in a coup. France, with thousands of stationed troops in the region, were helping to fight jihadist groups that were coming from the Sahel region that stretches to central Mali, northern Burkina Faso, and western Niger. Tensions between the two countries have mounted in recent weeks, leading up to the takeover of the French embassy. Macron said recently that diplomats, including ambassador Sylvain Itté , were surviving on military rations as they holed up in the embassy.

Since soldiers overthrew Niger’s President Mohamed Bazoum in July and seized power, France — which has 1,500 soldiers deployed in the African country — has refused to diplomatically engage with the military junta.

Niger ended military cooperation with France following the coup after claiming that Bazoum’s government was not doing enough to protect the country from the armed rebellion in the country’s west, which is part of the semi-arid Sahel region. In the last decade, this region has become the epicentre of violence by armed groups linked to al-Qaeda and ISIL (ISIS).

Macron said troops would be withdrawing in the coming weeks and months, with a full pullout set by the end of the year.