French President Emmanuel Macron on Sunday announced that the country’s Ambassador to Niger will return to Paris in the next hours, and that French troops will fully withdraw from the west African country “by the end of the year.”
Macron’s announcement came two months after confrontation with the Niger military junta that ousted the president.
In an interview on France 2 television on Sunday night, Macron said, “Our ambassador and several diplomats will return to France,” also affirming that Paris will end its military cooperation with Niger.
He added that French troops would withdraw in “the months and weeks to come” with a full pullout “by the end of the year.”
France keeps about 1,500 soldiers in Niger, where military rulers seized power by overthrowing President Mohamed Bazoum on July 26.
Until Sunday, Macron had refused to heed calls by Niger’s new leaders to recall troops based in Niamey and his ambassador, insisting that Bazoum remains the country’s only legitimate authority.
On September 15, Macron announced that the Niger military junta is holding the French ambassador, Sylvain Itte. He said the diplomat and his staff were “literally being held hostage” in the mission, eating military rations with no food deliveries.
Also, Macron said the envoy “cannot go out, he is persona non grata and he is being refused food.”