France to pull troops out of Niger after coup, says Macron

France is to end its military cooperation with Niger and pull its 1,500 troops out of the African country by the end of the year after a military coup there in July, French President Emmanuel Macron said on Sunday.

The move deals a hammer blow to France’s counter-terrorism operations in the Sahel and France’s influence in the region, but Macron said France would “not be held hostage by the putschists.”

“France has decided to recall its ambassador and end its military cooperation with Niger,” Macron said in an interview with France’s TF1 and France 2 television stations.

“So in the coming hours, our ambassador with several diplomats will return to France and we are ending our military cooperation with the de facto authorities of Niger because they no longer want to fight against terrorism,” he added.

Macron said he still regarded democratically elected President Mohammed Bazoum, currently held prisoner by the coup leaders, as the country’s legitimate leader and had informed him of his decision.