West Africa: Niger to Accept Foreign Troops Fighting Insurgents in Sahel

MINUSMA peacekeepers on patrol in Aguelhok, Mali (file photo).
18 February 2022

President Mohamed Bazoum says Niger will welcome foreign special forces to secure the region. He said threats from the militant groups would likely rise as France pulls its troops out of Mali.

Niger will host French and European special forces after their withdrawal from neighboring Mali, President Mohamed Bazoum confirmed on Friday.

"They will especially welcome in Takuba because it has great advantages for us. They are special forces with capabilities responding to the threat posed by terrorist organizations," Bazoum wrote on Twitter.

The Niger president said the forces would secure the border area of the West African state.

France to take soldiers out of Mali

France and its European allies, as well as Canada, announced on Thursday that they were pulling their troops out of Mali.

Relations between Paris and Bamako have deteriorated since Mali's military leaders reneged on an agreement to hold elections in February. They instead proposed retaining power until 2025.

French President Emmanuel Macron said on Thursday the fight would continue from Niger.

"The heart of this military operation will no longer be in Mali but in Niger ... and perhaps in a more balanced way across all the countries of the region which want this (help)," he said.

Mali pullout to take months

Bazoum confirmed the change on Friday, saying that the foreign forces continue the fight against Islamist insurgents.

"This area will be even more infested and the terrorist groups will strengthen. We know that they are destined to extend their influence," Bazoum said.

It could take four to six months until the military withdrawal from Mali is complete.

Bazoum hinted that other West-African states could also host more troops for anti-terrorist operations in his social media posts.

Niger already hosts some French, American, German and Italian forces.

lo/dj (Reuters, AFP)

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