First of some 1,500 French forces leave Niger after being ordered to leave by military who seized power in July.
French soldiers have started to withdraw from their bases in Niger, with the first convoy of troops escorted out of the country by Niger’s military as it travelled in the “direction of Chad”, authorities in the capital Niamey said.
Pick-up trucks and armoured personnel carriers laden with French soldiers drove through the dusty outskirts of Niamey on Tuesday, marking a departure demanded by Niger’s military rulers who seized power in July.
In a statement read on state television, Niger’s military called on citizens to cooperate with the troop movements, which it said would involve some of the 1,500 French soldiers leaving Niger by road to Chad, a journey of hundreds of kilometres through sometimes insecure territory.
“The troops based in Ouallam have left their base today. These are the operations for the departure of the first ground convoy in the direction of Chad, escorted by our defence and security forces,” the military said.
In addition to the departure by land, “three special flights” have been registered at the airport in Niamey, two for the departure of “97 special forces elements” and one “dedicated to logistics”.
The withdrawal of French forces was swiftly demanded by Niger’s new ruling generals after they took power on July 26, with French President Emmanuel Macron then confirming their departure at the end of September.