Senegalese Premier demands end to French occupation

(MENAFN) In a bold move, Senegalese Prime Minister Ousmane Sonko has called for the closure of French military bases in Senegal, asserting that their continued presence undermines the nation's Sovereignty and strategic autonomy. Speaking at a joint conference with French left-wing politician Jean-Luc Melenchon in Dakar, Senegal's capital, Sonko questioned the rationale behind the French army's prolonged presence in the country more than 60 years after independence.

Sonko's remarks come amidst growing discontent over the presence of French troops in Senegal, with critics viewing it as a remnant of colonial dominance despite Senegal's independence in 1960. France currently maintains approximately 350 troops in Senegal, down from a contingent of 1,200 deployed in 2010. Sonko, a former opposition leader who assumed the role of prime minister following his ally's electoral victory, emphasized the need for Senegal to assert control over its territory and reduce reliance on foreign military presence.

Highlighting the impact of foreign garrisons on Senegal's national security landscape, Sonko emphasized that while several countries have offered defense agreements, it does not justify the extensive presence of foreign forces, particularly in the Dakar region. The prime minister's stance reflects a broader trend in West Africa, where neighboring countries like Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger have increasingly turned to alternative security partners, including Russia, amid grievances against France's military presence.

Senegal's call for the closure of French military bases echoes similar sentiments expressed by its regional counterparts, who have accused France of internal interference and insufficient efforts in combating jihadist insurgencies in the Sahel region. Sonko's bold stance signals a shift in Senegal's foreign policy outlook, prioritizing sovereignty and autonomy in defense matters.



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