Senegal’s prime minister has vehemently denounced the French military presence in his country and raised the possibility of closing its bases amid a growing move by the neighboring states to expel foreign occupation troops from the Sahel region.

Ousmane Sonko, who is a vociferous critic of France’s meddling in its former colony, said in a wide-ranging speech that the French military presence over claims of counter-terrorism operations was a violation of his country’s sovereignty.

“More than 60 years after our independence … we must question the reasons why the French army for example still benefits from several military bases in our country and the impact of this presence on our national sovereignty and our strategic autonomy,” the Senegalese premier said at a joint conference with the French left-wing politician Jean-Luc Melenchon in the capital Dakar.

“I reiterate here the desire of Senegal to have its own control, which is incompatible with the lasting presence of foreign military bases in Senegal. … Many countries have promised defense agreements, but this does not justify the fact that a third of the Dakar region is now occupied by foreign garrisons.”


Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger have recently pushed out French troops and turned to Russia for help in their fight against Daesh- and al-Qaeda-affiliated terrorist groups in the restive Sahel region.

They have also turned away from West African bloc ECOWAS and formed their own alliance of Sahel states.

Earlier in the month, the U.S. military ordered its troops to pull out from Niger following the cancellation of a military agreement by the African country’s new leaders, who had demanded the withdrawal of American and French troops following the ouster of Western-backed president Mohamed Bazoum on July 26, 2023.

The new leaders announced on March 17 that Niger had canceled a 2012 military cooperation agreement with the U.S., calling for an end to the U.S. military’s “illegal” presence in the country.

The Sahel region in sub-Saharan Africa has been witnessing a Takfiri militancy that started from Mali in 2015.

Thousands of civilians, troops and police have been killed and more than two million people have fled their homes. More than 14 million people in Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso are now in urgent need of humanitarian assistance. (