« Following French President Emmanuel Macron’s announcement of the withdrawal of French military presence from Niger by the end of 2023, joyous scenes erupted on the streets of Niamey on Monday.
Locals gathered, celebrated, and chanted in support of the French exit, marking a significant development in the ongoing tensions between the two countries since a military junta seized control of Niger in July, as seen in the footage.
« Our fight did not start in vain. We are here until the last day, » said a local, Ali Hassane.
« I am very happy after hearing this from his mouth, after him saying that his ambassador and his staff are going to leave. This is what we expect from him. If someone has said they don’t want you at home, the first thing to do is pack up and leave the house. And if he can even send the means to transport them and leave our territory, that would make us happy, » said another local, Ibrahim Garba Oumarou.
France’s President Emmanuel Macron announced on Sunday that French troops and his ambassador to Niger, who had been living under effective house arrest, would be withdrawn from the coup-hit nation till the end of 2023.
Paris had originally sent troops to the Sahel region at the request of African leaders to counter Islamist insurgents but had faced calls from the Nigerien population and coup leaders to leave the country amid rising anti-French sentiment following the military takeover.
France had kept 1,500 troops in Niger since the coup and had repeatedly defied orders by the military junta to leave. The latest withdrawal comes after France had to abandon operations in neighbouring Mali and Burkina Faso in recent years, following similar military takeovers.
The coup on July 26 installed General Abdourahamane Tchiani, the leader of the presidential guard, as head of state. The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) imposed sanctions and threatened military action, while the United States, the European Union, Russia and international groups condemned the action.
However, massive protests in support of the military emerged on the streets of Niamey. Neighbouring countries Mali and Burkina Faso cautioned against any intervention by other West African nations, warning that it would be a ‘declaration of war’ against them too.
It marks the fifth coup in Niger since gaining independence from France in 1960, and it is the seventh military takeover to occur in West and Central Africa within three years. »