DUBAI, September 6. /TASS/. The army officers who seized power in Niger have demanded that France set a timetable for the withdrawal of its military personnel from the West African country, the Al Arabiya TV channel reported.
According to the channel, Paris and Niamey are currently discussing only the withdrawal of those French troops engaged in the anti-insurgent Operation Barkhane in the Sahel region. The Nigerien military is holding talks with senior French officers from the units stationed in Niger. The French ambassador to Niamey and representatives of the central government who do not recognize the legitimacy of the rebel-formed government, the National Council for the Safeguard of the Homeland (CNSP), have been barred from participating in the talks on the withdrawal of French troops.
On September 5, Le Monde reported, citing sources, that France had begun talks with the Nigerien military to withdraw its troops from the country. The newspaper did not disclose the number of servicemen that may leave Niger or the timetable of the withdrawal. Part of the French troop contingent may be redeployed to neighboring countries, Chad in particular, or may return to France.
On July 26, a group of military officers from Niger’s Presidential Guard mutinied and ousted President Mohamed Bazoum. The CNSP (abbreviation for the French: Conseil national pour la sauvegarde de la patrie), led by Presidential Guard Commander Abdourahmane Tchiani, was formed to govern the country. The leaders of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) imposed harsh sanctions on Niger and demanded that the rebels release Bazoum, threatening to use force and intervene in Niger.
News came in early August that the Nigerien rebels had renounced the country’s military agreements on the deployment and hosting of French forces, demanding that the contingent be withdrawn. France rejected these demands, saying that the relevant agreements had been signed with the previous Nigerien authorities under President Bazoum, which Paris recognizes as being the sole legitimate government.