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Niger, Macron announces the withdrawal of troops by the end of the year and the return of the ambassador

Until today, Paris had refused to recall its diplomatic representative, as was instead requested by the military junta that came to power in Niamey with a coup d'état


© Agenzia Nova - Reproduction reserved

The President Emmanuel Macron announced the return "in the next few hours" of the French ambassador to Niger, Sylvain Itté, and the withdrawal of French troops from the African country by the end of the year. “Let's put an end to our military cooperation with Niger,” Macron said in an interview with the television broadcaster “TF1”. Until today, Paris had refused to recall its diplomatic representative, as was instead requested by the military junta that came to power in Niamey with a coup d'état.

The Foreign Minister of the junta in power in Mali, Abdoulaye Diop, in his speech to the United Nations General Assembly in New York, declared that Mali remains "firmly opposed" to an armed intervention in Niger to restore deposed president Mohamed Bazoum to power and in the event of "aggression" in Niamey it will not “will stand by and watch”. “Mali remains firmly opposed to any military intervention by Cedeao,” Diop said, referring to the West African Economic Community's plans to attack Niger if negotiations with the military fail. “Any military intervention in Niger, I was going to say any aggression, any invasion of this country, constitutes a direct threat to the peace and security of Mali, but also to the peace and security of the region, and will necessarily have serious consequences. We will not stand by and watch,” added the interim minister. Diop then attacked France and its "neo-colonial domination", while giving a "special mention" to Russia "for its active solidarity and reliable commitment at both bilateral and multilateral levels". “The government of the Republic of Mali is more determined than ever to exercise its sovereignty, to assert its authority, all its authority over the entire national territory,” concluded Diop.

The military juntas of Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso, who came to power through coups d'état in the last three years, have signed a mutual defense agreement against the threats of terrorism and those of any external attack on their respective sovereignties. In the presence of the military leaders who today lead the governments of Bamako, Niamey and Ouagadougou - Colonel Assimi Goita, General Omar Tchiani and Captain Ibrahim Traoré - the parties committed themselves in a 17-point document to fighting terrorism in all its forms, to collaborate to prevent or quell armed rebellions and to combat organized crime in the common space of the alliance. “Any attack on the sovereignty and territorial integrity of one or more contracting parties will be considered an aggression against the other parties,” the text reads. The document, signed in Bamako, was given the name of Liptako-Gourma card, the region where the borders of the three signatory countries meet, also known as the "Three Border Area", at the center of renewed jihadist violence in recent years.

The Charter commits the three countries not to attack each other and to join forces against the various forms of terrorism active in the region. The reference goes in particular to the "armed rebellion", as specified in article 5 and also underlined to journalists by the Malian Foreign Minister Abdoulaye Diop, whose government has been committed since the end of August to countering the offensive of the Tuareg fighters united in the Coalition of Azawad (Cma) movements. They accuse the junta of having violated the peace agreement concluded in 2015 in Algiers with the then civilian government of Bamako, using the excuse of terrorism to reclaim territories claimed by them. The so renamed “Alliance of Sahel States” (Aes) effectively reinforces the promises of cooperation already expressed in recent months by the military leaders of the three countries, and formally structures the support offered to Niamey by Mali and Burkina Faso in the event of an attack by the reserve force of the Community of West African Countries (Cedeao), troops that the regional bloc has decided to activate as a last option - in the event of failure of the diplomatic option - to bring the deposed president Mohamed Bazoum back to power. Article 11 also keeps the door open to the membership of "any other State that shares the same geographical, political and socio-cultural realities" of the founding countries, in what appears to be a sort of African "Nato" that it intends to establish - he commented the Malian leader Goita – “an architecture of collective defense and mutual assistance for the benefit of our populations”.

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