Macron rejects Junta’s demands to pull out troops from Niger

French President, Emmanuel Macron

French President, Emmanuel Macron has rejected a proposal from Niger’s military junta to withdraw its soldiers after a coup damaged relations between the two countries.

Tensions between Niger and its former colonial power have risen after the July 26 revolution that removed President Mohamed Bazoum and terminated military ties with France.

Macron has suggested he would support a decision by the Economic Community of West African States to use force to restore democracy, but the bloc has backtracked and stated that diplomacy is its first priority in resolving the Niger debacle.

“If we redeploy, I would do it only at the request of President Bazoum,” Macron said, referring to Niger’s ousted leader, as the G-20 summit wrapped up in New Delhi, India, on Sunday. “We don’t recognize any legitimacy in the declarations from the putschists.”

Macron’s remarks come after the governing junta stated that France was not adhering to its request that the 1,500 French troops stationed in Niger depart by September 3.

A junta spokesperson said over the weekend that Nigerien and French military leaders met earlier this month to discuss a strategy for a French soldier pullout from Niger.

“As of today, there has been no progress in the plan’s implementation,” Abdramane stated on national broadcaster Tele Sahel.

“France continues to deploy its forces in several ECOWAS countries as part of preparations for an attack on Niger in collaboration with the regional bloc.”