How will Niger be affected by France’s withdrawal?

by MMC
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On Sunday September 24, President Emmanuel Macron announced that France would end its military presence in Niger and recall its ambassador to the country. “France has decided to withdraw its ambassador. In the coming hours, our ambassador and several diplomats will return to France,” Macron said. He also said that military cooperation was “finished” and that 1,500 French troops would leave in “the coming months” with a complete withdrawal of troops. by the end of the year.

France’s withdrawal follows the coup that toppled democratically elected President Mohamed Bazoum in July. After which, Abdourahmane Tchiani, the head of Niger’s presidential guard, declared himself head of a transitional government in the country.

The military junta welcomed the announcement by Macron, who had previously refused to recognize Niger’s new government. “This Sunday, we celebrate a new step towards the sovereignty of Niger,” they declared in a televised address. “This is a historic moment that testifies to the determination and will of the Nigerien people.”

Macron reiterated France’s position, saying Bazoum was being held against his will and remained the only recognized legitimate authority in the country. “He was targeted by this coup because he was carrying out courageous reforms and because there was largely ethnic score-settling and a lot of political cowardice,” he said.

Niger is one of several former French colonies in West and Central Africa that have experienced military takeovers. This trend has been observed in Burkina Faso, Guinea, Mali and Chad, with the most recent coup taking place in Gabon last month. On September 16, Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso formed a mutual defense pact against possible threats of armed rebellion or external aggression.

Coups d’état have often harmful effects on the economy of a country, including high inflation rates, increased national debt and low economic growth. The coup d’état in Niger has already led to punishments ECOWAS, the African Union, the European Union and the United Nations, with many Western allies withdrawing their financial support.

The withdrawal of foreign aid will likely lead to increased unemployment and increased dissatisfaction with the country’s economic situation. Mali’s GDP growth fell to 1.8 percent due to a combination of ECOWAS sanctions, high food inflation and pest infestations affecting agricultural production. This has led to an increase in the incidence of poverty and a postponement of fiscal consolidation targets.

The closure of borders imposed by sanctions has led to soaring food prices, a burden for the population of Niger in a context of economic and political instability. With a heavy reliance on foreign aid, the military junta’s ability to finance development initiatives will be significantly challenged due to the lack of adequate domestic revenue. Niger was the last partner working with the West in the fight against violent extremism in the Sahel, and the junta’s decision to end military cooperation with France further weakens counterterrorism efforts in the region.

Some fear that the coup in Niger could create a security gap, allowing an escalation of insurgent activity. Compared to previous democratically elected governments, doubts exist about the military junta’s ability to control extremist violence. Military takeovers often exacerbate insecurity, leading to an increase in terrorist attacks, as seen in Mali and Burkina Faso.

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