Macron says that France will withdraw troops and ambassador from Niger coup

Following a coup, President Emmanuel Macron announced that France will evacuate its ambassador and cease all military cooperation with Niger.

The French government has decided to recall its ambassador. Mr. Macron stated that their ambassador and a number of other diplomats will return to France in the coming hours. He added that military cooperation had "ended" and that French forces would withdraw in the coming months.

The military junta that took power in Niger in July applauded the decision. "This Sunday we commemorate a new step towards the sovereignty of Niger," the junta said to sources. 

Approximately 1,500 French personnel are stationed in the landlocked West African nation.

The decision by Paris comes after months of animosity and protests against the French presence in the nation, including frequent demonstrations in the capital, Niamey.

Both the military operations that France is conducting against Islamist extremists in the wider Sahel region and Paris's clout in the region have suffered a devastating defeat.

Mr. Macron made this declaration while speaking to the television networks TF1 and France 2 in France. He said that France would not be held hostage by the putschists.

Mr. Macron stated that ousted Niger President Mohamed Bazoum, who is being held captive by the coup leaders, remained the country's "sole legitimate authority" and that he had informed Bazoum of his decision. He referred to the former president as a "hostage."

"He was targeted by this coup d'état because he was implementing courageous reforms and because there was a great deal of ethnicism and political timidity," he said.

Following Burkina Faso, Guinea, Mali, and Chad, Niger is one of several former French colonies in West Africa where the military has recently assumed control.

The latest revolution occurred in August in Gabon. In recent years, anti-French sentiment has flourished in the region, with many local legislators accusing Paris of pursuing neocolonialist policies - an accusation France denies.

Concerns have also been raised in the West regarding the expanding role of the Wagner mercenary group in the Sahel.

It is accused of violating human rights and assisting some new military regimes. Ecowas, backed by France, has threatened military intervention in Niger to reinstate Mr. Bazoum. However, it has not yet acted.

The military leaders of Niger informed the French ambassador, Sylvain Itte, that he must depart the country after they deposed Mr. Bazoum on July 26. However, despite a 48-hour ultimatum issued in August for him to depart, he remained in office as the French government refused to comply or recognize the legitimacy of the military regime.

Mr. Macron's statement comes just hours after Niger's coup leaders prohibited "French aircraft" from soaring over the country.

ASECNA, a regional air safety organization, stated that Niger's airspace was "open to all national and international commercial flights with the exception of French aircraft or aircraft chartered by France, such as Air France."

The message stated that the airspace would remain closed to "all military, operational, and other special flights" absent prior authorization.

Air France informed sources that it does not fly over Niger's airspace.