Niger revokes military accord with US, junta says

Staff WritersReuters
Niger's junta says the US military presence in the country is no longer justified. (AP PHOTO)
Camera IconNiger's junta says the US military presence in the country is no longer justified. (AP PHOTO) Credit: AP

Niger's ruling junta has revoked with immediate effect a military accord that allows military personnel and civilian staff from the US Department of Defence on its soil, junta spokesperson Colonel Amadou Abdramane says.

The decision follows a visit by US officials this week which was led by Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Molly Phee and included General Michael Langley, commander of the US Africa Command.

Abdramane, speaking on television in the West African nation, said the US delegation did not follow diplomatic protocol, and Niger was not informed about the composition of the delegation, the date of its arrival or the agenda.

He added the discussions were around the current military transition in Niger, military co-operation between the two countries and Niger's choice of partners in the fight against militants linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State.

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A US official, speaking on the condition anonymity, said senior US officials had "frank discussions" in Niamey earlier this week about the trajectory of Niger's ruling military council - known as the CNSP.

"We are in touch with the CNSP and will provide further updates as warranted," the official added.

Since seizing power in July last year, the Niger junta, like the military rulers in neighbouring Mali and Burkina Faso, have kicked out French and other European forces, and turned to Russia for support.

"Niger regrets the intention of the American delegation to deny the sovereign Nigerien people the right to choose their partners and types of partnerships capable of truly helping them fight against terrorism," Abdramane said.

"Also, the government of Niger forcefully denounces the condescending attitude accompanied by the threat of retaliation from the head of the American delegation towards the Nigerien government and people."

There were about 1100 US troops in Niger as of last year, where the US military operates out of two bases, including a drone base known as Air Base 201, built near Agadez in central Niger at a cost of more than $US100 million ($A152 million).

Since 2018 the base has been used to target Islamic State militants and Jama'at Nusrat al-Islam wal Muslimeen, an al Qaeda affiliate, in the Sahel region.

Abdramane said the status and presence of US troops in Niger was illegal and violated constitutional and democratic rules because, according to the spokesperson, it was unilaterally imposed on the African nation in 2012.

He said Niger was not aware of the number of US civilian and military personnel on its soil or the amount of equipment deployed and, according to the agreement, the US military had no obligation to respond to any request for help against militants.

"In light of all the above, the government of Niger, revokes with immediate effect the agreement concerning the status of United States military personnel and civilian employees of the American Department of Defence on the territory of the Republic of Niger," Abdramane said.

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