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Hundreds of people demonstrate in Niger to demand the departure of American troops | News of the demonstrations

Hundreds of people demonstrate in Niger to demand the departure of American troops |  News of the demonstrations


In March, Niger suspended military cooperation with the United States after the military government's leaders severed ties with France last year.

Hundreds of protesters took to the streets of Niger's capital to demand the departure of American troops, after the military government further changed its strategy by ending a military agreement with the United States and welcoming Russian military instructors .

Marching arm in arm through central Niamey on Saturday, crowds waved Nigerien flags in a demonstration reminiscent of the anti-French demonstrations that prompted the withdrawal of French forces from Niger last year after the army seized power in a coup d'état.

A handwritten sign in English said the United States rushed out of Niger, in a sign of support for the military government and its decision in mid-March to revoke an agreement that had allowed about 1,000 U.S. troops to operate on its territory in two. bases.

“We are here to say no to the American base, we do not want Americans on our soil,” demonstrator Maria Saley told the Reuters news agency on the sidelines of the march.

The crowd was also heard chanting Down with American imperialism and People's liberation is on the march.

Until the coup, Niger had remained a key security partner of France and the United States, which used it as a base in international efforts to quell a decade-old rebellion in the Sahel region in West Africa.

In March, the country suspended its military agreement with the United States. The U.S. military had some 650 troops working in Niger as of December, according to a White House report to Congress. The U.S. military operates a major air base in the Nigerien city of Agadez, about 920 km (572 miles) from Niamey, using it for manned and unmanned surveillance flights and other operations.

A drone base known as Air Base 201 near Agadez was also built at a cost of more than $100 million. Since 2018, the base has been used to target ISIL (ISIS) fighters and Jamaat Nusrat al-Islam wal Muslimeen (JNIM), an affiliate of Al-Qaeda, in the Sahel region.

Ties with Russia

Meanwhile, France also agreed to withdraw its troops last September following the July coup that toppled democratically elected President Mohamed Bazoum.

Niger's new authorities have joined the military governments of neighboring Mali and Burkina Faso to end military deals with former Western allies, leave the regional political and economic bloc ECOWAS and foster closer ties with Russia.

Wednesday's arrival of Russian military instructors and equipment is further evidence of the military government's openness to closer cooperation with Moscow, which seeks to increase its influence in Africa.

A few Russian flags were visible at the protest, but some citizens told Reuters on Friday they did not want Russia's welcome defense assistance to lead to a permanent presence in Niger.

We should not see the subsequent establishment of Russian military bases abroad, said Abdoulaye Seydou, coordinator of the M62 coalition of civil society groups that led anti-French protests last year.

His concerns were echoed by student Souleymane Ousmane: this is how the French, Americans and all other countries settled in Niger thanks to military cooperation, they ended up occupying large parts of our country, he told Reuters.

However, it is still unclear if and when American troops will leave.




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