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French Army Has Begun Its Withdrawal From Niger

The military regime that came to power through a coup d’état has announced that operations to withdraw French soldiers present in Niger will begin this Tuesday, escorted by the Nigerien army, at a time when Algeria has decided to “suspend” his mediation aimed at finding a way out of the crisis.

“Operations for the departure of the first convoy under the escort of our defence and security forces will begin tomorrow, Tuesday, October 10,” the military regime said Monday evening in a press release read on national television, Télé Sahel.

The press release does not specify the destination of this convoy.

“After meetings” and “exchanges between our authorities and the French side, a timetable for the withdrawal of their troops was determined by mutual agreement,” specifies the regime.

According to Nigerien and French security officials cited by AFP, numerous convoys took place this weekend between the advanced sites in the northwest, where 400 soldiers are stationed, and the capital Niamey.

At least two convoys had provisioned the bases at Ouallam and Tabarey-Barey, and numerous French soldiers were prioritized for transit to Niamey.

The resupply allowed the French forces on site to improve their situation: the reserves of rations, water, and fuel – and hence the electricity supplied by generators – could be calculated in days.

This also allowed them to prepare for their departure from the “three borders” zone between Niger, Burkina Faso, and Mali, where they had been stationed in the battle against terrorism alongside Nigeriens.

There are few options for leaving Niger. Land borders with Benin and Nigeria are closed. And, unless otherwise allowed, Nigeriens forbid French, civil, and military aircraft from flying over their land.

Other crossings have reopened with five countries: Algeria, Libya, Burkina Faso, Mali, and Chad, where the French Forces in the Sahel headquarters is situated in N’Djamena.

According to a source close to the situation, if the French containers are delivered to Chad, they will subsequently transit through the port of Douala in Cameroon.

Nigerien military who took control on July 26 by deposing elected president Mohamed Bazoum swiftly engaged in a confrontation with France, demanding the withdrawal of its soldiers and ambassador.

Emmanuel Macron announced the resignation of the French ambassador to Niamey, Sylvain Itté, who returned to Paris at the end of September.

Algeria, for its part, said on Monday that it would “suspend” its mediation efforts in Niger “until obtaining the clarifications that it considers necessary regarding the implementation of Algerian mediation” in Niger.

If Algeria’s top diplomat, Ahmed Attaf, were to visit Niger, the talks between the two chancelleries on “the program and content of this visit” would be “inconclusive,” according to the Moroccan Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

At the end of August, Algeria offered a thorough six-month transition plan. However, the Nigerien leadership reaffirmed at the beginning of October that the duration of the transition would only be determined by a “inclusive national” discourse.

General Abdourahamane Tiani proclaimed a three-year transition period just days after taking control.

Written by PH

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