France Refuses To Withdraw Military From Former Colony Niger

France has emphasized its commitment to upholding five military cooperation pacts with Niger, as these agreements were entered into with the lawful authorities of the West African nation. This stance remains unchanged despite the newly established junta in the former colony urging the revocation of these agreements.

France Refuses To Withdraw Military From Former Colony Niger

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

This announcement comes in response to a declaration made on Thursday by Amadou Abdramane, spokesperson for the military coup leaders who removed Niger’s democratically elected president, Mohammad Bazoum, from power. The junta announced the unilateral termination of the military pacts with France, the nation’s previous colonial ruler.

Abdourahamane Tchiani, previously at the helm of Niger’s presidential guard, proclaimed himself the leader of the transitional government two days after his faction successfully ousted Bazoum’s administration.

Should the military agreements be nullified, France would need to withdraw the approximately 1,000 to 1,500 troops currently stationed in Niger. Additionally, a small contingent of United States soldiers is also present in Niger, a region of substantial geopolitical importance due to its abundant mineral resources and its shared borders with seven countries, including Libya, Chad, and Nigeria.

Niger, categorized as one of the most economically disadvantaged nations globally, has received approximately $500 million in military aid from the United States since 2012, marking the highest such amount provided to any country in the vicinity. In the aftermath of the coup that transpired last week, several of the Western countries that had been providing assistance to Niger have halted their aid initiatives. Foreign support constitutes about fifty percent of Niger’s annual budget.

On Friday, the Netherlands joined the ranks of Western nations withdrawing from agreements previously established with Niger’s former government. The Netherlands conveyed, through an official statement, that it has no intention of extending support to those responsible for executing a coup. Instead, The Hague outlined its intention to channel aid to Niger via humanitarian initiatives overseen by the United Nations or other international bodies.

Concurrently, Paris registered its disapproval on Thursday of Niger’s decision to suspend the operations of French news outlets France 24 and RFI. In a statement published on the foreign ministry’s official website, the French government went on to characterize the junta’s action of limiting the presence of French media in the country as a manifestation of “authoritarian repression.”

The Intercept has verified that Brig. Gen. Moussa Salaou Barmou, the head of Niger’s Special Operations Forces and a key figure in the unfolding coup in Niger, received training from the U.S. military. Since 2008, military officers trained by the United States have been involved in 11 coups in West Africa.

France’s foreign ministry further announced on Saturday its commitment to assisting the West African regional bloc known as the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in its efforts to thwart the success of the military coup. Catherine Colonna, the Minister of Europe and Foreign Affairs, emphasized that the leaders of the coup have until Sunday to relinquish control, otherwise, the potential for an ECOWAS-led military intervention in Niger must be treated with “grave seriousness.”

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