(Ecofin Agency) - Since French troops were ousted from Niger, questions have arisen about their potential new location. Earlier this week, a Nigerien media outlet issued a warning that a French military base was being established near Kandi, in the Alibori department to the north of neighboring Benin, with which relations had become tense since the July 26 coup. This information was subsequently reported by the French media group RFI in its September 26 press review.
The Benin government wasted no time in issuing a denial, stating that the information was false. Deputy Secretary General and Government Spokesman Wilfried Léandre Houngbédji issued a statement on social media the following day, saying “no French military base is being established in our country, and certainly not in the Alibori department. Benin has only received support from French, Belgian, and American military instructors when necessary (...), and they left our country over six months ago after completing their mission."
Despite this clarification by Benin's authorities, the website Mourya Niger, responsible for the false information, insisted that “even if Patrice Talon's government spokesman Wilfried Léandre Houngbédji attempts to deny the information, he acknowledges the presence of French, Belgian, and American military instructors in Kandi to strengthen Benin's forces. After Niamey, it is highly likely that a significant portion of the French military will be stationed in Kandi, with the approval of President Talon, who will thus confirm his alignment with France in the political crisis in Niger."
Indeed, in Niger, where concerns about potential armed intervention involving foreign forces, especially France, to oust the military regime have been frequently raised, the coup leaders have consistently alleged the involvement of other nations in the West African sub-region.