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‘Leave now’, Chad tells US marines

Chad has demanded the US withdraw its troops from an army base that is one of the its few remaining outposts to fight a roiling insurgency in the region.

The move comes a month after Niger suspended its security agreement with the US, amid a series of coups that have seen military juntas in the Sahel forge closer ties with Russia while cutting those with the West.

Chad told the US “to stop their activity at the base,” according to a letter to the US defence attaché. The letter, signed by the air force chief of staff Idriss Amine Ahmed, was verified by an unidentified foreign ministry spokesman.

CNN Thursday reported Chad had asked US troops to leave the country, citing a separate letter sent to the US defence attaché.

That was denied by the White House. “Chad hasn’t asked US forces to leave,” a US state department spokesman said. “The US and Chad have agreed that the period following the upcoming Chadian presidential election is an appropriate time to review our security cooperation.”

Chad’s Interim President Mahamat Deby is widely expected to extend his family’s three-decade long rule in the May 6 polls.

In January, Deby became the latest military ruler in the Sahel to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin and stress the need for “sovereignty.”

“Chad’s a free and independent country,” Deby told France24 this week. “We’re not a slave looking to change his master. We intend to work with all nations that respect us.”

The military rulers of Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso have also cut security ties with former allies in the West amid an upsurge in anti-Western sentiment in the region — particularly against ex-colonial power France — that Russia has exploited.

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