France to cut back troops in West and Central Africa to 600, say sources

France is planning to cut back its army presence in West and Central Africa to round 600 troops in step with President Emmanuel Macron’s plans to restrict the French army footprint within the area, three sources instructed AFP.

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In February 2023, Macron introduced “noticeable discount” of French troop presence in Africa, as anti-French sentiment is working excessive in some former colonies and nations like Russia are vying for larger affect.

In keeping with a plan at the moment beneath dialogue with African companions, France is planning to drastically cut back its so-called “pre-positioned” forces in Africa.

In keeping with two sources near the federal government and a army supply, who all requested to not be named, France will maintain solely round 100 troops in Gabon in Central Africa, down from 350 in the present day and round 100 in Senegal, in West Africa, down from 350.

Paris plans to maintain round 100 troops in Ivory Coast on the southern coast of West Africa – down from 600 troops in the present day – and round 300 personnel in Chad in north-central Africa, down from 1,000 now.

The lowered presence might be periodically expanded primarily based on the wants of native companions, the three sources mentioned. Contacted by AFP, the French Common Employees declined to remark.

Till two years in the past, along with round 1,600 forces pre-deployed in West Africa and Gabon, France had over 5,000 troops within the Sahel area of Africa as a part of the Barkhane anti-jihadist operation.

But it surely has been regularly pushed out by the juntas that got here to energy in Mali in 2021, in Burkina Faso in 2022 and Niger in 2023. 

All of the three nations have now concluded safety agreements with Russia, which has been searching for to broaden its footprint on the continent.

Chad, dominated by Mahamat Idriss Deby, the son of Idriss Deby Itno who was president for over 30 years, is the final Sahel nation to host French troopers. 

‘Cut back seen presence’

Landlocked Chad is surrounded by the Central African Republic, Sudan, Libya and Niger that host Russian paramilitary forces ensuing from the reorganisation of the Wagner group whose founder Yevgeny Prigozhin died in a mysterious airplane crash final August.

In February, Macron tasked former minister Jean-Marie Bockel with figuring out the brand new modalities of the French army presence with African companions.

His conclusions are anticipated in July. 

In Might, Bockel instructed the Senate that France needed to “cut back its seen presence, however keep logistical, human and materials entry to those nations, whereas reinforcing our motion in response to their aspirations”.

The French military plans to arrange a Paris-based command devoted to Africa this summer season, two sources near the matter instructed AFP. 

The French military is just not ruling out “pooling” its bases with People or European companions, the chief of employees of France’s armed forces, Common Thierry Burkhard has mentioned.

In keeping with Burkhard, the tighter new construction will make it doable to take care of relations with native army authorities, “collect intelligence” and “pursue operational partnerships”, amongst different duties.

As an alternative of fight missions, French troopers will basically present coaching and capabilities to associate nations, at their request. 


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