Paris refuses to withdraw its troops from Niger

Lazy eyes listen


France has maintained on carrying out five military cooperation agreements with Niger since the agreements were signed with the West African state’s ‘legal authorities,’ despite the former colony’s newly installed junta calling for the agreements to be canceled.

“France recalls that the legal framework for its defense cooperation with Niger is based on agreements concluded with legitimate Niger authorities,” the French foreign ministry said in a statement Friday. “These are the only ones recognized by France and the rest of the international community.”

The remark comes after Amadou Abdramane, the spokesperson for the military coup leaders who deposed Niger’s democratically elected president Mohammad Bazoum last week, declared on Thursday that the junta was unilaterally terminating military accords with its erstwhile allies.

Former presidential guard leader Abdourahamane Tchiani declared himself chairman of the transitional government two days after his forces deposed Bazoum’s administration.

The termination of the military treaties would necessitate the withdrawal of France’s 1,000 to 1,500 troops stationed in the African country. A small number of US troops are also stationed in Niger, a country considered geopolitically crucial due to its abundant natural riches and borders with seven nations, including Libya, Chad, and Nigeria.

Niger, one of the world’s poorest countries, has received roughly $500 million in US military aid since 2012, the most of any country in the area. Following the coup last week, some of Niger’s western donors halted aid programs. Foreign aid contributes for approximately half of Niger’s annual budget.

The Netherlands became the latest Western country to withdraw from accords signed with Niger’s former administration on Friday, saying in a statement that it did not want to encourage coup perpetrators. The Hague stated that supplies would instead be diverted to Niger through humanitarian efforts coordinated by the UN or other international organizations.

Meanwhile, Paris condemned Niger’s suspension of French news companies France 24 and RFI “in the strongest possible terms” on Thursday. In a statement released on the website of the foreign ministry, it stated that the junta’s decision to ban French media in the nation constituted “authoritarian repression.”

France’s foreign ministry announced on Saturday that it will provide assistance to the West African bloc, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), in order to prevent a military coup. Catherine Colonna, Minister of Europe and Foreign Affairs, said the coup leaders had till Sunday to hand over power, or else the possibility of an ECOWAS military involvement in Niger would be regarded “very seriously.”