The new military rulers had been demanding the exit of the French ambassador and troops after President Macron refused to recognise the coup.

French President Emmanuel Macron says his country will withdraw its ambassador and troops from Niger in the wake of the July coup that overthrew democratically-elected President Mohamed Bazoum.

“France has decided to withdraw its ambassador. In the next hours our ambassador and several diplomats will return to France,” Macron said in a televised interview on Sunday.

He added that military cooperation was “over” and French troops would withdraw in “the months and weeks to come” with a full pullout “by the end of the year”.

France has maintained some 1,500 troops in Niger since the July coup and refused a request by the new military rulers for its ambassador to leave.

Thousands of people have protested in recent weeks in the capital Niamey, including outside a military base housing French soldiers.

The new military rulers had been demanding the exit of the French ambassador and troops after Macron refused to recognise the coup.

With tensions mounting, Macron said he told the ousted Bazoum on Sunday that “France has decided to bring back its ambassador, and in the coming hours our ambassador and several diplomats will return to France.”

Macron reaffirmed France’s position that Bazoum was being held “hostage” and remained the “sole legitimate authority” in the country.

“He was targeted by this coup d’etat because he was carrying out courageous reforms and because there was a largely ethnic settling of scores and a lot of political cowardice,” he argued.

He noted that France’s military presence in Niger was in response to a request from Niger’s government at the time.

This is a developing story. More to follow.

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Aljazera

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