France completed the withdrawal of the last French forces from Niger

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The ruling military junta in Niger announced the departure of the last French soldiers deployed in the country, thereby putting an end to the French military presence that had existed there for 10 years.

The last French soldiers in Niger took off, Friday, on board two planes, and their destination wasn’t reported.

Nigerien Army Lieutenant Salim Ibrahim said, during a ceremony held at Niamey Air Base on the occasion of the end of the French military presence in the country, that the day of the French forces’ departure “marks the end of the path of the French forces in the Sahel region”.

Lieutenant Ibrahim explained that during the French forces’ withdrawal process, 145 air sorties, and 15 ground convoys, were carried out to withdraw the approximately 1,500 soldiers, adding that the withdrawal took place in a smooth manner.

The ceremony concluded with the signing of a joint document by the Chief of Staff of the Niger Army, Colonel Maman Sani Kyaw, and the Commander of the French Forces in the Sahel region, General Eric Ozanne, in the presence of representatives of Togo and the United States.

The completion of the withdrawal of French forces comes a day after France announced its decision to close its embassy in Niger, as it was no longer able to work normally, according to what French diplomatic sources said Thursday.

Paris had decided to close its embassy in the coming period, noting that the French mission had begun procedures to dismiss and compensate local employees.

French-Nigerian relations have witnessed great tension since the July 26 coup that overthrew President Mohamed Bazoum.

The military authorities in Niamey canceled a number of agreements with Paris, and also requested the departure of French Ambassador Sylvain Etty from the country, declaring him an undesirable person.

Under the influence of popular demonstrations and official demands, France announced the departure of its ambassador to Niger on September 27, and in October it began withdrawing its 1,500 troops from the country.

Since the coup of July 26, 2023, which overthrew the elected Nigerien President Mohamed Bazoum, relations between France and Niger have deteriorated, and the ruling military junta in Benjamin has canceled several agreements with Paris and called for the departure of its ambassador and forces.

France spent weeks refusing to comply with the decisions of the military council, considering it illegitimate, before later deciding to withdraw its ambassador and forces.

Like Mali and Burkina Faso, its neighbors and allies in the “Coalition of Sahel States,” Niger is moving to strengthen its relations with Russia.

It recently received a delegation led by the Russian Deputy Minister of Defense, and the horizon of military cooperation between the two countries was discussed.

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