French embassy in Niger closed until further notice: Foreign ministry

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France has closed down its embassy in Niger until further notice, the foreign ministry said on Tuesday, barely two weeks after the last French troops left the country in the wake of a coup that ousted a key Paris ally.

The closure of the embassy in Niamey represents one of the final chapters in the winding down of a French presence in its former colony following the July coup that left the country in the hands of military leaders.

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“The French embassy in Niger is now closed until further notice,” the foreign ministry said in a statement, adding the mission would continue activities from Paris.

It said that for the five months since the coup “our embassy has suffered serious obstacles making it impossible to carry out its missions” including a blockade around the mission.

Most staff, including the ambassador who was expelled by the new military leaders, left some time ago.

The military ousted elected leader Mohamed Bazoum on July 26 and scrapped defense deals with France, its traditional security partner.

Bazoum remains under house arrest in Niamey.

The last contingent of what was once 1,500 French troops deployed in the country to fight an extremist insurgency left Niger on December 22.

Despite the French pull-out, other Western nations retain a presence in Niger.

The United States said in December that it was ready to resume cooperation with Niger on the condition its military regime committed to a rapid transition to civilian rule.

A US official said in October that Washington was keeping about 1,000 military personnel in Niger but was no longer actively training or assisting Niger forces.

Smaller numbers of German and Italian forces also remain, with the West eager to avoid Russia seeking to fill any vacuum created by the French withdrawal.

With AFP

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French troops begin withdrawal from Niger: French military

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