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Niger protesters demand US troop withdrawal

April 13, 2024

Hundreds chanted for US forces to leave northern Niger, where they have been involved in efforts to quash an Islamist insurgency. Niamey has increasingly moved away from the West and strengthened ties with Russia.

People in Niamey in protest against US military presence on April 13
Hundreds of Nigeriens took to the streets of Niamey to call for the withdrawal of US troopsImage: Mahamadou Hamidou/REUTERS

Hundreds took to the streets of Niger's capital, Niamey, on Saturday to demand the departure of US troops.

It comes after the West African country's military leadership said it was withdrawing from a military agreement with the US.

What do we know about the protest?

Several prominent figures from the junta were present at the demonstration in front of the National Assembly Headquarters.

The crowd chanted "Down with American imperialism" and "The people's liberation is on the march."

Flags from Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger and Russia were visible.

Protesters in Niamey, one holding a sign reading "US Army: You leave, you vanish, no bonus, no negotiation"
Protesters in Niamey chanted "Down with American imperialism"Image: Mahamadou Hamidou/REUTERS

Burkina Faso and Mali are also run by military juntas and all three states maintain good relations with Russia. The three countries in the Sahel region set up a joint force to combat long-running Islamist insurgencies in March.

On Wednesday, Russian military instructors arrived in Niger. Nigerien state broadcaster RTN reported that Russian forces had plans to install an anti-aircraft system in the country.

The junta leadership said last month that a 2012 cooperation agreement had been "unilaterally imposed" by Washington and that the US would submit a proposal to withdraw from the country.

It remains unclear if or when US troops will withdraw from Niger.

What is Niger's junta?

Niger has been ruled by a military junta since a coup in July. Before the coup, Niger was a key security partner of France and the United States in fighting a long-running Islamist insurgency in the Sahel region.

French troops began to withdraw from the country in June last year following anti-French protests.

The Sahel saw a 38% increase in conflict fatalities in 2023 compared with the previous year, according to the US-based ACLED crisis monitor.

sdi/wd (Reuters, AFP)