BERLIN: The German army will end operations at its airbase in Niger by August 31 following the breakdown of talks with the Sahel country’s ruling junta, Germany’s defence ministry said on Saturday.

All Bundeswehr soldiers stationed at the base will be withdrawn by August 31 and German military cooperation with Niger will be put to an end, the ministry added.

The breakdown in negotiations marks Niger’s latest diplomatic shift away from the West since a coup d’etat in July 2023 ousted President Mohamed Bazoum and brought the current military leadership to power.

Since then, Niger has turned towards Russia and Iran and away from the United States and former colonial ruler France.

A similar shift has taken place in neighbouring Mali and Burkina Faso, which are likewise ruled by military leaders and faced with violence from jihadist groups.

At the end of May, Germany and Niger reached an interim agreement allowing the Bundeswehr to continue operating the air transport base in the capital Niamey until the end of August. But negotiations to extend that agreement broke down, notably because the base’s personnel would no longer benefit from immunity from prosecution.

Only 38 Bundeswehr soldiers were stationed at the base in recent times, along with 33 staff from German and foreign companies. It was notably used for operations to evacuate German nationals in Africa.

Published in Dawn, July 7th, 2024

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