US says it will return to Chad for talks to keep troops in the country

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ACCRA, Ghana — The U.S. military plans to return to Chad within a month for talks about revising an agreement that allows it to keep troops based there, an American general said Wednesday.

The U.S. said last month it was withdrawing most of its contingent of about 100 troops from Chad after the government questioned the legality of their operations there. This followed Niger’s decision to order all U.S. troops out of the country, dealing a blow to U.S. military operations in the Sahel, a vast region south of the Sahara desert where groups linked to al-Qaida and the Islamic State group operate.

U.S. Marine Corps Gen. Michael Langley, the commander of U.S. Africa Command, made the comments to reporters in Ghana at the second annual African Maritime Forces Summit, or AMFS.

He said the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Chad was expected to be temporary, and Chad had communicated to Washington that it wanted to continue the security partnership after the presidential election there.

“We’ll come back for discussions within a month to see in what ways, and what they need, to be able to build further in their security construct and also against terrorism,” Langley said.

Government officials in Chad couldn’t immediately be reached for comment. The presidential election in Chad is scheduled for Monday, and analysts expect the incumbent to win.

Chad’s interim president, Mahamat Deby Itno, seized power after his father, who ran the country for more than three decades, was killed fighting rebels in 2021. Last year, the government announced it was extending the 18-month transition for two more years, which led to protests across the country.

Langley said the withdrawal of U.S. forces was a temporary step “as part of an ongoing review of our security cooperation, which will resume after Chad’s May 6 presidential election.”

Both Chad and Niger have been integral to the U.S. military’s efforts to counter violent extremist organizations across the Sahel region, but Niger’s ruling junta ended an agreement last month that allows U.S. troops to operate in the West African country.

Niger is home to a major U.S. air base, in the city of Agadez, about 550 miles from the capital, Niamey, using it for manned and unmanned surveillance flights and other operations. The U.S. has also invested hundreds of millions of dollars in training Niger’s military, since it began operations there in 2013.

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