France has backed down on its hardline stance against the coupists who overthrew President Mohamed Bazoum of Niger Republic in July, agreeing to withdraw its ambassador from Niger Republic, followed by its military contingent.
The colonial power had kicked against the coup and insisted on the reinstatement of Bazoum
France has about 1,500 soldiers in Niger as part of an anti-jihadist deployment in the Sahel region.
In the wake of the coup, France had said its troops would remain in the West African nation despite hostilities by the junta.
It had also refused to recognize the junta, which announced that Niger had severed ties with its colonial master.
Also, Niger’s military leaders had told the French ambassador, Sylvain Itte, to leave the country.
Despite a 48-hour ultimatum for him to leave, issued in August, the French government refused to comply.
But in an interview on Sunday, President Emmanuel Macron said, “France has decided to withdraw its ambassador. In the next hours, our ambassador and several diplomats will return to France.”
He added that military cooperation was over, and French troops would withdraw in “the months and weeks to come” with a complete pullout by the end of the year.
“In the weeks and months to come, we will consult with the putschists because we want this to be done peacefully,” he added.
Macron reaffirmed France’s position that Bazoum was being held “hostage” and remained the “sole legitimate authority” in the country.
He also stated that Sylvian Itte was being held hostage in the embassy.
“He was targeted by this coup d’etat because he was carrying out courageous reforms and because there was a largely ethnic settling of scores and a lot of political cowardice,” he argued.