Military claims France continues to deploy troops in regional countries in ‘preparation for aggression’
Niger’s military administration accused France of being “insincere” Saturday after it said it made no concrete steps to withdraw troops as announced at the beginning of September.
Since Sept. 1, when the French forces commander in the Sahel announced a plan to withdraw troops from Niger, “no progress has been made in the implementation of the plan,” according to a statement read on national television by government spokesman Col, Amadou Abdramane.
Nigerien authorities castigate “the lack of sincerity as well as the underhand and delaying maneuvers of the French authorities” on the total withdrawal of its troops.
The French commander reportedly had announced the planned withdrawal during a meeting with Niger’s army Chief of Staff in the eastern Nigerien city of Zinder.
Niger’s transition Prime Minister Ali Mahaman Lamine Zeine said Monday that the military government is in talks with France to ensure a “rapid” withdrawal of French troops.
The military that deposed President Mohamed Bazoum more than a month ago, claimed that France continues to deploy troops in countries that are part of the West African bloc, ECOWAS, including Senegal, Benin and Ivory Coast, as part of a ”preparation for aggression” against Niger, according to the statement.
There was no immediate reaction from France. But Abdramane claimed from Sept. 1, two military transport aircraft and a Dornier 328 were deployed as reinforcements in Ivory Coast, while two multi-role helicopters type super PUMA and 40 armored vehicles were deployed in Benin.
And Sept. 7, he added, a French military ship docked in Benin’s capital of Cotonou with military personnel.
Thousands of protestors have been demonstrating in Niger’s capital Niamey against the presence of French troops.
The military leaders that in July accused France of seeking to “intervene militarily” to reinstate Bazoum, appealed Saturday to the population to remain “vigilant and never to demobilize until the inevitable departure of French troops from our territory.”
On Aug. 3, military leaders announced the scrapping of military agreements with France, a decision Paris rubbished, citing a lack of legitimacy.
Niger’s military administration has accused France of “blatant interference” following remarks by French President Emmanuel Macron who hailed the courage of Ambassador Sylvain Itte — who a defied 48-hour ultimatum to leave Niger.
Macron has rejected the military administration in Niger.
Niger hosts 1,500 French troops as part of a regional counter-insurgency force.
Niger was plunged into turmoil July 26 when Gen. Abdourahamane Tchiani, a former commander of the presidential guard, led a military intervention that ousted Bazoum.