STRASBOURG, FRANCE - DEC 14, 2018: Street view of French President Emmanuel Macron preparing to lay a white rose flower at General Kleber statue in the city center, mourning vigil place after Strasbourg Christmas Market terrorist attacks during the Christmas Market
President Macron has revealed that he is ending the country’s military co-operation with Niger after the coup there in July, and withdrawing 1,500 troops given the task of battling rebels in the region.
The troops will be pulled out by the end of the year, in a move that deals a blow to France’s counter-terrorism operations in the Sahel and its influence in the region.
“We will consult with the putschists because we want things to happen calmly,” he told France’s TF1 and France 2 TV stations.
Mr Macron said France, would “not be held hostage by the putschists” who he has refused to recognise as the legitimate authority in the country.
France’s military base in Niger’s capital, Niamey, had become the centre of anti-French protests since the July 26 coup.
Groups have regularly gathered on the street outside to call for the departure of troops stationed in the capital.
On one Saturday this month, tens of thousands rallied against France, slitting the throat of a goat dressed in French colours and carrying coffins draped in French flags.
At the same event, some people carried pro-Russian signs.
Mr Macron said he still regarded democratically elected President Mohamed Bazoum, currently held prisoner by the coup leaders, as the country’s legitimate leader and had informed him of his decision.
Meanwhile. France’s ambassador was also being pulled out and would arrive back in the country in the next few hours, Mr Macron said.