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Niger junta revokes security agreement with France



As Coup leader vows to resist international pressure
Niger’s junta revoked a raft of military cooperation agreements with France on Thursday – a decision that could drastically reshape a fight against Islamist insurgents in the region after the ouster of President Mohamed Bazoum last week.


Like recent coups in neighbouring Burkina Faso and Mali, last week’s military takeover in Niger came amid a growing wave of anti-French sentiment with some locals accusing the former colonial ruler of interfering in their affairs.

France has between 1,000 and 1,500 troops in Niger, helping to fight an insurgency by groups linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State that has destabilised West Africa’s Sahel region.


A decision about the revocation of five military deals with France dating between 1977 and 2020 was read out on national television late on Thursday by junta representative Amadou Abdramane.


Abdramane added that a diplomatic notice will be sent to France to that effect. There was no immediate response from France.

Niger’s regional and Western partners, including France, have imposed sweeping sanctions in an effort to pressure the coup leaders to restore constitutional order after Bazoum’s ouster – the seventh coup in West and Central Africa since 2020.


But junta leader Abdourahamane Tiani, the former head of Niger’s presidential guard, has said he will not back down.


Tiani has won the backing of the juntas in Mali and Burkina Faso and cited persistent insecurity as his main justification for seizing power, even though data on attacks in the country shows that security has actually been improving.


Ousted president Bazoum said in an opinion piece published Thursday in the Washington Post that he is a hostage and called on the international community to restore constitutional order.


“This coup, launched against my government by a faction in the military on July 26, has no justification whatsoever. If it succeeds, it will have devastating consequences for our country, our region and the entire world,” Bazoum wrote.


An ECOWAS delegation is in Niamey, hoping to secure “a conclusive and amicable resolution,” while the bloc’s defence chiefs have also been meeting this week to discuss a possible military response, which they have said would be a last resort.

On Thursday the junta said any aggression or attempted aggression by ECOWAS would be met with an immediate riposte without warning from Niger’s armed forces on any ECOWAS member-state except those friendly to Niger.


Mali and Burkina Faso have said they would treat an intervention in Niger as a “declaration of war” against them too, and would come to Niamey’s defence. Tiani sent a general to both countries on Wednesday to shore up support.


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