Niger ends military accord with US, junta says

STORY: Niger’s ruling junta has ended an accord that allowed U.S. Department of Defense military personnel and civilian staff on its soil.

Spokesperson Colonel Amadou Abdramane said on Saturday (March 16) that the agreement was being terminated “with immediate effect”.

“The U.S. 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, in particular through its elected representatives, to be consulted on the installation of a foreign army on its territory.”

The decision follows a visit by U.S. officials.

Abdramane said the U.S. delegation did not follow diplomatic protocol, and that Niger was not informed about the composition of the delegation, the date of its arrival or the agenda.

He added that discussions were around the current military transition in Niger, military cooperation between the two countries and Niger’s choice of partners in its fight against militant groups.

A U.S. official, speaking anonymously, said senior U.S. officials had held “frank discussions” about the trajectory of Niger’s ruling military council, known as the CNSP.

Since seizing power in July last year, Niger’s military rulers have kicked out French and other European forces and turned to Russia for support.

It’s been the same story in neighboring Mali and Burkina Faso.

Abdramane accused the U.S. delegation of a “condescending attitude” and of threatening “reprisals”.

When it comes to choosing diplomatic, strategic and military partners, the government of Niger regrets the willingness of the American delegation to deny the sovereign people of Niger the right to choose its partners and the types of partnerships likely to help it to truly fight terrorism.

There were around 1,100 U.S. troops in Niger as of last year.

The U.S. military operates out of two bases in the country including a drone base known as Air Base 201.

It was built in central Niger at a cost of more than $100 million.

Since 2018, Air Base 201 has been used to target Islamic State militants and Jama’at al-Islam wal Muslimeen – an al Qaeda affiliate.

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