Niger’s Junta Cancels Military Agreement with US – BBC News

Niger’s Junta Cancels Military Agreement with US – BBC News

Image caption,

A junta spokesperson made the announcement on state television on Saturday

Niger’s junta has ended a military agreement that allowed US personnel to be deployed in the country.

Saturday’s announcement came in the week that a delegation from Washington had been in Niamey for talks with the country’s military leadership.

The US used its base in Niger to monitor regional jihadist activity.

This latest announcement by the junta, in power since last July, comes as it moves closer to Russia and after French troops were kicked out in December.

“The US presence on the territory of the Republic of Niger is illegal and violates all the constitutional and democratic rules which would require the sovereign people… to be consulted on the installation of a foreign army on its territory,” Niger’s military spokesperson Col Amadou Abdramane said in a damning statement on national television.

He also alleged that the US delegation had accused Niger of making a secret deal to supply uranium to Iran. Col Abdramane described the accusation as “cynical” and “reminiscent of the second Iraq war”.

And finally, he suggested that the US had raised objections about the allies that Niger had chosen. “The government of Niger therefore strongly denounces the condescending attitude combined with the threat of reprisals by the head of the American delegation against the government and the people of Niger,” Col Abdramane said.

Referring to Niger’s governing military council by the initials CNSP, US State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said on X that it was “aware of the statement… which follows frank discussions at senior levels in Niamey this week about our concerns with the CNSP’s trajectory. We are in touch with the CNSP and will provide further updates as warranted.”

There are thought to be at least 650 US personnel in Niger.

In 2016, the US began investing around $100m (£79m) in a drone base in the central city of Agadez, 750km (460 miles) north-east of Niamey. It was used for surveillance and targeting of Islamic State and al-Qaeda-linked militants operating in the wider Sahel region.

Jihadist activity in the Sahel has created instability in a number of countries, which, as well as Niger, has also led to coups in two of its neighbouring states – Mali and Burkina Faso. The three countries have now formed a military alliance.

The army in Niger overthrew the elected President, Mohamed Bazoum, last July citing the worsening security situation.

Following mounting resentment against former colonial power France, French troops, who had been helping to fight the jihadists, left the country in December.

The junta had appeared to take a softer line towards the US, but that has now changed.

Niger appears to be moving closer to Russia. Last December, junta-appointed Prime Minister Ali Mahaman Lamine Zeine was in Moscow to discuss military and economic ties.

Referring to relations with Russia, military spokesperson Col Abdramane said Niger is dealing with the country to “acquire military equipment necessary to its fight against the terrorists who have claimed thousands of innocent Nigerien victims under the indifferent eye of much of the international community”.

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