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28 Dec, 2023 10:00

African state to review military deals with West

Niger's coup leaders claim the move is part of a commitment to protect sovereignty and the national interest
African state to review military deals with West

Niger's newly formed leadership has announced plans to reassess military agreements, signed by previous governments with Western powers.

The decision was announced in a letter from the Nigerien Ministry of Foreign Affairs to the diplomatic representatives of countries that maintain military bases in Niamey, local media reported on Tuesday.

It was part of the military rulers' commitment to “safeguard” and defend the West African nation's interests, “in accordance with the demands of the Nigerien people,” according to the text, as cited by the Turkish news agency Anadolu.

A draft memorandum of understanding will be submitted to them [partner countries with a military force stationed on Niger’s territory] to breathe new life into bilateral cooperation,” it added.

Niger's new leaders took control of the landlocked country on July 26 following the overthrow of President Mohamed Bazoum in a coup, and have since taken several steps to review ties with foreign partners.

Last week, France completed the withdrawal of its troops from Niamey, where they had been involved in fighting a decade-long jihadist insurgency in the Sahel region, after the coup leaders demanded they leave.

The US currently has 648 troops stationed at two bases in the former French colony. In 2017, the Nigerien government authorized the use of armed American drones to target militants as part of the Sahel counterterrorism mission. Washington has said disengagement from Niger was not an option, despite joining France and other Western allies in suspending aid to Niamey in response to Bazoum’s ouster.

Germany had about 110 soldiers in the uranium-rich nation as of September, while Italy had around 300 soldiers there prior to the coup.

Earlier this month, Niger's military government announced its withdrawal from the European Union Civilian Capacity-Building Mission (EUCAP) and the EU Military Partnership Mission (EUMPM), stating that it would terminate any “privileges and immunities” granted to troops under the two security pacts.

The EU established the three-year EUMPM in March to provide training, logistics, and infrastructure support to Nigerien forces in order to strengthen their capacity to combat terrorist threats. The EUCAP mission was launched in 2012 with an aim of building up Niger's civilian police and security forces using EU funding.

Nigerien Prime Minister Ali Mahamane Lamine Zeine recently told Sputnik Africa that the coup leaders were willing to collaborate with partners that respect Niamey’s sovereignty.

No one will come and impose anything on Niger. Nigeriens will no longer be able to accept this. We have reached a milestone where no one will ever again come to dictate to us what we must do,” the official said in the interview published on December 19.

Meanwhile, the African country’s new authorities have signed a memorandum of understanding with Russia to strengthen defense cooperation.