French President Emmanuel Macron has declared the withdrawal of his country’s ambassador and troops from Niger Republic in response to the July coup that ousted democratically-elected President Mohamed Bazoum. France, which maintains 1,500 troops in Niger, declined a request from the new military rulers to recall its ambassador.
This decision comes amidst ongoing protests in the capital, Niamey, including outside a military base housing French soldiers, where demonstrators demanded the removal of the French ambassador and troops due to Macron’s refusal to recognize the coup.
In a televised interview on Sunday, September 24, Macron confirmed the immediate withdrawal of French troops and the ambassador from Niger. He stated, “France has decided to withdraw its ambassador. In the next hours, our ambassador and several diplomats will return to France.” Macron also revealed that military cooperation was terminated, and the French troops would gradually withdraw over the coming months, aiming for a complete pullout by the end of the year.
Macron expressed his support for President Bazoum, asserting that he remained the “sole legitimate authority” in Niger and was targeted by the coup due to his courageous reforms. He characterized the coup as a result of ethnic tensions and political cowardice.
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) had imposed sanctions in response to the July coup, warning of potential military intervention if diplomatic efforts to reinstate Bazoum failed. However, as regional countries rallied behind the new military rulers, ECOWAS’s stance evolved.