French President Macron ordered the ambassador in Niger and all embassy staff to leave the country and return to France. He also said that France will end its military presence in Niger by the end of 2023.
By Baya Osborn for NewsVoice. He writes about Conflicts and Security Studies in the World of Politics. Osborn (lucrust.com) is based in Kenya.
France has accepted the fate that it has lost control of Niger. On September 24, 2023, Macron made a statement in an interview that could signify delight to the citizens of Niger in the coming days. The new military rulers had been demanding the French ambassador’s and troops’ exit after President Macron refused to recognise the coup.
“We are ending our military cooperation with Niger”, says Macron.
“France has decided to withdraw its ambassador. In the next few hours, our ambassador and several diplomats will return to France.”
France has not settled with the military junta. Emmanuel Macron stated that France would end military cooperation with Niger. Because the junta does not want to cooperate with them in fighting terrorism, the French troops will be withdrawn in the coming few weeks, marking the end of the cooperation. The withdrawal from the Niamey base is set to be orderly. Here is why the military junta in Niger expelled the French Ambassador to Niger.
What events could have triggered the decisions made by Macron, who was determined to intervene in Niger and restore Mohamed Bazoum to the presidency?
Three Sahel region countries formed the pact on September 16. They include Niger, Mali, and Burkina Faso, and their main aim is to protect each other from any possible threats of armed rebellion or external aggression. After, there were demonstrations against French troops and the embassy, and banning all French aircraft in the Niger airspace.
This decision came a day after Niger banned all “French aircraft”. According to the Agency for the Safety of Air Navigation in Africa and Madagascar (ASECNA) website, all commercial flights, including those of airline Air France, were not to fly over the Nigerien airspace. The airspace would remain closed for “all military, operational, and other special flights” unless receiving prior authorisation.
Niger had announced on August 6 that it was closing its airspace due to the “threat of intervention from neighbouring countries” led by ECOWAS.
Apart from the failed diplomatic negotiations between French and Niger officials, this move can be attributed to the constant protests of Niger citizens against France. The exit comes after weeks of pressure as a result of popular demonstrations.
Thousands of people have protested recently in Niamey’s capital, including outside a military base housing French soldiers. The protestors burned the flags of France, expressing their vileness and dissatisfaction with the former colony.
In response to the Paris decision, the authorities in Niger have welcomed it. This decision means they can continue to control Niger and return to democracy and the rule of law effectively. Foreign countries are expected to quell their pressure, including ECOWAS, which France and the United States urged for a possible intervention.
“This Sunday, we celebrate a new step towards the sovereignty of Niger,” they said. “This is a historic moment, which speaks to the determination and will of the Nigerien people,” they added.
France has dramatically affected their influence and presence in Niger and West Africa. The situation in the region is highly complicated for the former colonialist as its diplomatic relations keep deteriorating.
It’s an embarrassment to the European country being forced out of its former colonies, Niger, Mali, and Burkina Faso. This is good news for the Niger citizens as they move into their new freedom away from colonial aggression and exploitation.