French President Emmanuel Macron has announced that France will end its military presence in the African country of Niger by the end of 2023.
The announcement was made during Macron’s visit to the West African nation on Tuesday, the president’s first official trip to the continent since his election in 2017.
Macron said he saw the mission of the French military in Niger as essential in the fight against terrorism in the Sahel region. However, he also noted that France wanted to work closely with African partners to ensure regional security.
“There is no victory or short-term military solution to terrorism,” Macron said. “Rather, we must work together to achieve sustainable and durable stability.”
The announcement reflects Macron’s focus on winding down France’s presence in the region as part of his policy to put African states in control of their own security. France currently has around 5,000 troops in Africa, including 4,500 in the Sahel region.
The French president also announced that his country would be increasing economic cooperation with the region. Niger is a particularly impoverished country located in the Sahel, a region that is home to several active armed Islamist groups.
In June, the French government had already committed to gradually withdrawing its forces from the region. Macron’s announcement marks the timetable for this withdrawal from Niger specifically, and comes as France is involved in the fight against Islamist militants in nearby Mali.