Hundreds of people are demanding the departure of US troops

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Hundreds of protesters have taken to the streets of Niger’s capital to demand the departure of United States troops, after the military government further shifted its strategy by ending a military accord with the US and welcoming Russian military instructors.
The US military had some 650 personnel working in Niger in December, according to a White House report to Congress.
A drone base known as Air Base 201 near Agadez was also built at a cost of more than $100m.
Ties with Russia Meanwhile, France also agreed to withdraw its troops last September in the wake of the July coup that overthrew democratically elected President Mohamed Bazoum.
The new authorities in Niger joined military-run governments in neighbouring Mali and Burkina Faso in ending military deals with one-time Western allies, quitting the regional political and economic bloc ECOWAS and also fostering closer ties with Russia.
The arrival on Wednesday of Russian military instructors and equipment was further evidence of the military government’s openness to closer cooperation with Moscow, which is seeking to boost its influence in Africa.
A few Russian flags were visible at the protest, but some citizens told Reuters on Friday they did not want the welcome Russian defence assistance to lead to a permanent presence in Niger.
It is still unclear, however, if or when the US troops will leave.

NEUTRAL

Following the military government’s further strategy shift of terminating a military accord with the US and welcoming Russian military instructors, hundreds of protestors have taken to the streets of Niger’s capital, demanding the withdrawal of US troops.

Recalling anti-French protests that prompted France’s forces to withdraw from Niger last year following the army’s coup, the crowd marched arm in arm through the heart of Niamey on Saturday while waving Nigerien flags.

“USA rush out of Niger” was written on a handwritten sign in English, expressing support for the military government’s decision to revoke an agreement that had permitted about 1,000 US military personnel to operate out of two bases on its territory in mid-March.

Protester Maria Saley told the Reuters news agency on the fringes of the march, “We’re here to say no to the American base, we don’t want Americans on our soil.”.

“Down with American imperialism” and “The people’s liberation is on the march” were other chants heard from the crowd. “.

A vital security ally of both France and the US, Niger served as a base for international efforts to quell a decade-long rebellion in the Sahel region of West Africa prior to the coup.

The nation halted its military cooperation with the United States in March. A report from the White House to Congress states that in December, there were about 650 US military personnel stationed in Niger. A significant airbase used for both manned and unmanned surveillance flights as well as other operations is maintained by the US military in Agadez, Niger, which is located about 920 kilometers (572 miles) away from Niamey.

At a cost exceeding $100 million, Air Base 201, a drone base located near Agadez, was also constructed. Jama’at Nusrat al-Islam wal Muslimeen (JNIM), an al-Qaeda affiliate in the Sahel, and ISIL (ISIS) fighters have been the targets of the base since 2018.

Ties with Russia.

After the July coup that deposed President Mohamed Bazoum, who was democratically elected, France also consented to remove its troops in September of last year.

The new Niger government has followed the lead of military-run governments in neighboring Mali and Burkina Faso in terminating military agreements with former Western allies, leaving the ECOWAS regional political and economic bloc, and establishing stronger ties with Russia.

Moscow’s desire to increase its influence in Africa is demonstrated by the military government’s openness to closer cooperation, as demonstrated by the arrival of Russian military instructors and equipment on Wednesday.

Some residents told Reuters on Friday that they did not want Russia’s welcome defense assistance to turn into a permanent presence in Niger, despite the fact that a few Russian flags were visible during the protest.

According to Abdoulaye Seydou, the coordinator of the M62 coalition of civil society organizations that spearheaded anti-French protests last year, “we must not subsequently see the implementation of Russian foreign military bases.”.

“This is how the French and the Americans and all the other countries settled in Niger-from military cooperation, they ended up occupying large parts of our country,” student Souleymane Ousmane told Reuters, echoing his concerns.

The US troops’ departure date and manner are still unknown, though.

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