Senegal flag raised at French base as Dakar prepares to retakes bases from former colonizer

DAKAR, Senegal (AP) — The French flag was lowered at a military base in Senegal and the West African country's colors hoisted in a ceremony to mark the start of a handover of French bases to Dakar.

The symbolic move Wednesday comes after Paris said that it would close its bases and leave only about 300 troops in its former colony to provide training and expertise. A French statement Tuesday said the move will allow Senegalese forces to improve and provide their own security.

In April, President Abdoulaye Wade announced that the government would retake the three French bases which housed some 1,200 troops. He said the handover would mark the final step in Senegal's separation from its former colonial master.

Senegal gained independence from France in 1960.