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Hundreds Protest In Niger Demanding Departure Of US Troops

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.

Marching arm in arm through central Niamey on Saturday, the crowd waved Nigerien flags in a demonstration that recalled anti-French protests that spurred the withdrawal of France’s forces from Niger last year after the army seized power in a coup.

One hand-written sign in English read “USA rush out of Niger”, in a show of support for the military government and its decision in mid-March to revoke an accord that had allowed around 1,000 US military personnel to operate on its territory out of two bases.

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

The crowd was also heard chanting “Down with American imperialism” and “The people’s liberation is on the march.”

Until the coup, Niger had remained a key security partner of France and the US, which used it as a base as part of international efforts to curb a decade-old rebellion in West Africa’s Sahel region.

In March the country suspended its military agreement with the US. The US military had some 650 personnel working in Niger in December, according to a White House report to Congress. The US military operates a major airbase in the Niger city of Agadez, some 920km (572 miles) from Niamey, using it for manned and unmanned surveillance flights and other operations.

A drone base known as Air Base 201 near Agadez was also built at a cost of more than $100m. Since 2018 the base has been used to target ISIL (ISIS) fighters and Jama’at Nusrat al-Islam wal Muslimeen (JNIM), an al-Qaeda affiliate, in the Sahel region.



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