France Defiant, Insists Niger Military Junta Cannot Expel Its Ambassador
The Fench government has sternly rebuffed the demands of Niger’s coup leaders, firmly asserting that their “putschists have no authority” to issue directives to the French ambassador in Niamey.
The military faction, which seized control in Niger on July 26, had taken the audacious step of granting the French ambassador, Sylvain Itte, an ultimatum of 48 hours to vacate the nation.
“The request made by the putschists has been duly acknowledged by France,” the French Ministry told AFP.
However, France promptly dismissed this appeal, underscoring that the coup leaders hold no legitimacy in making such a demand.
The appointment and presence of the ambassador, as emphasized, are solely under the jurisdiction of the duly elected and legitimate authorities of Niger.
The statement from France said, “The putschists do not have the authority to make this request, the ambassador’s approval coming solely from the legitimate elected Nigerien authorities.”
With unwavering resolve, the French Ministry further iterated that their embassy’s operational status and security considerations remain under constant assessment. It went further saying “We are constantly evaluating the security and operating conditions of our embassy,”
The Nigerien military government had on Friday issued an order to the French ambassador in Niamey Sylvain Itte to leave the country within 48 hours.
Their proclamation was rooted in the alleged lack of response from the French ambassador to a ministerial summons, along with alleged divergent actions undertaken by the French government that were deemed to run counter to Niger’s interests.
What the government in Niger says
It stated thus, “the refusal of the French ambassador in Niamey to respond to an invitation from the minister for a meeting Friday and other actions of the French government contrary to the interests of Niger”.
This diplomatic move follows a series of demonstrations against France in the aftermath of the toppling of President Mohamed Bazoum’s regime by the Nigerien military. President Bazoum and his family have remained detained since their ousting.
The military leadership firmly contends that Paris is aspiring to militarily intervene in Niger with the intention of reinstalling Bazoum.
Moreover, they openly denounce the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), painting it as a pawn in the hands of France, the erstwhile colonial power in the region.
In response to the coup, ECOWAS imposed a set of substantial economic sanctions on Niger, reserving the option of employing armed intervention to reinstate constitutional order.
Within Niger’s borders, France has stationed approximately 1,500 troops, a contingent deployed to combat the persistent threat of jihadist groups that have sown turmoil not only within the country but across the broader Sahel region for an extended period.