Africa News Bulletin

French troops to leave Niger by December 31

The 1,500 French soldiers will leave Niger by December 31, a deadline set by French President Emmanuel Macron at the end of last month, the commander of French forces in the Sahel revealed Friday in Paris.

The withdrawal, demanded by Niger’s military rulers, began last week, after the July ouster of President Mohamed Bazoum, a key ally of Paris, which disorganized France’s strategy for the Sahel region.

“The objective of the presidential announcements of a match on December 31 will be achieved,” said French General Eric Ozanne, at a joint press conference with Niger’s Colonel Mamane Sani Kiaou, in the capital Niamey. The Nigerien colonel added that 282 soldiers They already left the country “until yesterday”.

“Two large convoys of military vehicles that were in the North” left, Ozanne said, adding that several convoys carrying “non-sensitive equipment” began to leave. The colonel said these do not include “weapons” or “transmission” equipment.

“The large logistical flows will actually start next week”, he added, noting that 2,500 containers should be shipped out of the country. “This is being done by a third-party civil carrier and is completely transparent, especially for the local population , which will only see trucks with containers”, he said.

The first French road convoy of troops retreating from Niger arrived on Thursday in Chad’s neighboring capital, N’djamena, after 10 days on the road. N’djamena is the location of the French military headquarters for the entire Sahel region, with around 1,000 soldiers present. “Tchad is just a transit country, it is not a rearticulation of our operation from Niger to Chad,” said Ozanne.

From Chad, French troops can leave by air with their most sensitive equipment. However, most of it will have to be transported by land and sea. The trip “was perfectly planned and prepared by the Nigerien authorities and the messages transmitted to the population were perfectly received and heard”, said Ozanne.

“The decoupling is taking place in a coordinated way, we have the same objective”, he added. “We don’t always agree on everything, but we talk to each other, we resolve things, we find compromises, so everything happens with a spirit of professionalism and with the objective of finding solutions”, said Ozanne.

Niger’s Colonel Kiaou said “we have worked together for years”. “We asked them to leave, so we would like everything to go well and for them to be able to return to Chad in complete safety,” he added.

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