France is in talks with Niger’s military about the partial withdrawal of its troops from the West African nation, following the coup that ousted President Mohamed Bazoum in July. According to French media reports, the discussions are not with the coup leaders, but with regular army officials with whom France has long been cooperating.
France has about 1,500 troops stationed in Niger as part of its wider fight against armed groups in the Sahel region. Niger became a crucial hub for France after coups forced the withdrawal of French troops from neighboring Mali and Burkina Faso. However, relations between France and Niger have deteriorated rapidly after the coup, which France condemned as illegitimate and refused to recognize.
The coup leaders have called for the French ambassador and troops to leave Niger, and have renounced several military cooperation agreements with France. Thousands of people have also rallied in the capital Niamey and other cities, demanding the departure of French forces and accusing them of meddling in Niger’s affairs.