French President Emmanuel Macron has said that his country will withdraw its ambassador and troops from Niger in the wake of the July coup that overthrew democratically-elected President Mohamed Bazoum.
“France has decided to withdraw its ambassador. In the next hours our ambassador and several diplomats will return to France,” Macron said in a televised interview on Sunday.
He added that military cooperation was “over” and that 1,500 French troops stationed in the country would withdraw in “the months and weeks to come” with a full pullout “by the end of the year”.
France’s exit comes after weeks of pressure from the military and popular demonstrations. Thousands of people have protested in recent weeks in the capital Niamey, including outside a military base housing French soldiers.
Niger’s new rulers, who had been demanding France’s exit after Macron refused to recognise the July 26 coup, welcomed the French president’s announcement.
“This Sunday, we celebrate a new step towards the sovereignty of Niger,” they said in a statement read out on national television. “This is a historic moment, which speaks to the determination and will of the Nigerien people,” they added.
The development comes as France’s troops have also been asked to leave its former colonies Mali and Burkina Faso.