Niger’s military rulers have said a first convoy of French troops will on Tuesday begin preparations to leave the Sahel country, after the leaders of a coup ordered them out. The announcement comes as Algeria decided to “postpone” mediation efforts to find a way out of the crisis. “Operations for the departure of the first convoy escorted by our defence and security forces will begin tomorrow,” said a statement read on state television Monday. The statement did not specify the destination of the convoy. The withdrawal of some 1,400 French troops had been demanded by Niger’s ruling generals shortly after they seized power at the end of July. French President Emmanuel Macron, who had sought to make a special ally of Niger, said in September that the troops would exit “by the end of the year”, complying with a demand by the new regime. The French soldiers are in Niger as part of a wider fight against jihadists across the Sahel region. After some meetings and “exchanges between our authorities and the French side, a timetable for the withdrawal of their troops has been determined with mutual agreement”, Monday’s statement said. Over the weekend, there were several convoys moving between bases in the northwest near the borders with Burkina Faso and Mali where 400 troops are deployed, as well as in the capital Niamey, Nigerien and French security sources said. At least two convoys have since been permitted to re-supply the Ouallam and Tabarey-Barey bases and several French soldiers have been considered priorities to be moved to Niamey. The French troops have been living with uncertainty since the new regime began demanding their departure, with irregular supplies of food and repeated anti-French demonstrations outside the Niamey base. The way out for troops in Niger remains unclear with land borders with Benin and Nigeria closed. The Niger regime has also banned French civilian and military aircraft from flying over its territory without special authorisation. Borders have reopened with Algeria, Libya, Burkina Faso, Mali and Chad, where a French command is based in the capital N’Djamena. – Algerian mediation – The July 26 coup against Niger’s democratically elected president Mohamed Bazoum was the third such putsch in the region in as many years. It followed similar actions in fellow former French colonies Mali and Burkina Faso in 2021 and 2022 respectively. Nigeria on Thursday welcomed an Algerian offer to mediate talks with the military regime, which includes a proposed six-month transition period. But Algeria announced on Monday that it would “postpone” the talks “until it obtained clarifications” concerning the implementation of Algerian mediation in Niger. Earlier this month, the Niger’s new leaders said that the timeframe of a transition back to civilian rule would be determined by an “inclusive national” dialogue. The new strongman, General Abdourahamane Tiani, had said shortly after coming into power that a transition period would last a maximum of three years.