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[UPDATE] The France-Niger accords: what happens now Niamey has pulled out?


Niger’s new military rulers have pulled out of several military agreements with France, raising questions about where we go from here.

Q: Which agreements is the National Council for the Safeguard of the Homeland (CNSP) renouncing?

R: Five accords, which Paris had already suspended pending the return of the democratically elected Mohamed Bazoum. They cover “different aspects of cooperation and French military intervention in Niger”, Paris-Nanterre University researcher Julien Antouly posted on X/Twitter.

Among the more recent were two signed in 2013 on the French military intervention in Niger for the security of the Sahel region, the contents of which were never made public, he added.

Q: Is a French military pull-out from Niger now inevitable?

R: Yes — if Niger’s new military rulers remain in power, says Francois Gaulme, a researcher at the French Institute of International Relations (IFRI).

It would be difficult for France to deny the legitimacy of the country’s new leadership while at the same time working with them against the jihadist insurgency, he argues. “That’s not tenable.”

Florence Boyer, a Niger specialist and researcher at the French National Research Institute for Sustainable Development (IRD) agrees.

“I think we’re heading towards an evacuation of French troops,” she said.

Q: Would a French military pull-out be the end of the fight against jihadist insurgents in the Sahel?

R: “Of course,” says Gaulme at IFRI. “Niger is a key state” in France’s anti-jihadist network in the Sahel.

The French troop presence in Niger allows it to fight the jihadists in the west, in neighbouring Mali; and to the east, against the Boko Haram forces.

“Niger is linked strategically and structurally to Mali,” Gaulme argues. “We are trying to fight on two fronts. Without Niger, that seems compromised.”

Q: The West African bloc (ECOWAS) has threatened military intervention to oust Niger’s new military rulers: could France, the United States and the international community get involved?

R: Last December ECOWAS decided to set up a regional intervention force. The bloc has warned Niger’s military rulers to allow a return to democratic rule by Sunday, or face possible military intervention.

If that did happen, says Gaulme, Paris and Washington might lend financial and logistical support, “but I don’t see US or French troops attacking” Niger.

Q: Could Russia’s paramilitary Wagner force extend its influence into Niger?

R: One French diplomatic source doubted Wagner played any role in the coup itself. “On the other hand, it’s clear that Wagner has taken an interest in Niger for some time.

“And the rapidity with which brand-new Russian flags were deployed at demonstrations show that they have certain things in place”, he added.

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