Middle East

French Minister of Niger as Mali’s withdrawal approaches

Key French and Niger ministers met yesterday as French troops renewed their mission in the Sahel following a planned withdrawal from Mali.
Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna and Defense Minister Sebastian Le Corne arrived in the capital of Niger late Thursday. They met with Foreign Minister Hasumi Masaud and Defense Minister Alkasoum Indatou on Friday, followed by President Mohammed Bazoum.
This visit takes place when French troops have completed their withdrawal from Mali, spotlighted Niger as a front-line nation in the fight against jihadistism, and the unstable region is suffering from a series of military coups. increase.
“We are here to show France’s commitment on the part of the Niger government,” Colonna said at a joint press conference.
“We are here to meet the needs you have proposed as much as possible.”
A very poor former French colony, Niger is the focus of France’s impetus, hoping to stop jihadistism through security and development. It is one of the largest recipients of French aid, receiving € 143 million last year.
Both sides on Friday signed an agreement on a € 50 million French loan and a € 20 million grant.
France will also increase food aid to Niger by 66% this year to € 8 million “during difficult times for global food security” due to the war in Ukraine, Colonna said.
“If we don’t win the development war, we will eventually lose the war on terrorism,” said Masoudou.
The French minister was also to visit the base in Ouallam, north of Niamey. The base oversees a joint operation of hundreds of French and Niger troops on the western border of Niger. Colonna will return to Paris late Friday and Le Corne will head to Côte d’Ivoire for a meeting with President Alassane Ouattara and a visit by the French army there.
Niger, the world’s poorest country on the UN Human Development Index benchmark, began in 2012 in northern Mali and has since been hit hard by riots that have swept neighboring countries.
Thousands of civilians were killed and more than two million were displaced.
Niger itself faces rebellions on both the western border between Mali and Burkina Faso and the southeastern border with Nigeria.
It accepts tens of thousands of internally displaced persons as well as refugees from Burkina Faso, Mali and Nigeria.
French troops that have supported Mali for nearly a decade are expected to complete their withdrawal within a few weeks after the collapse of the French and Mali junta.
The root of the conflict was a military takeover in August 2020, followed by a second coup in May 2021.
Friction evolved over Hunta’s delay in regaining civilian rule and escalated when Mali brought in a Russian paramilitary organization, a member called the “mercenary” of the pro-Kremlin Wagner group by France.
The coup continued in Guinea last September and in Burkina Faso in January. At its peak, Operation Barkhane in France had 5,100 troops among the five Sahel allies, all former French colonies of Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger.

http://www.gulf-times.com/story/721086/French-ministers-in-Niger-as-Mali-pullout-nears French Minister of Niger as Mali’s withdrawal approaches

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