Niger Junta Gives French Ambassador, Sylvain Itte, 48 Hours To Leave

The military rulers who seized control in Niamey on July 26 have given the French ambassador 48 hours to leave Niger, the country’s minister of foreign affairs said in a statement Friday, AFP reports.

Faced with “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”, the authorities have decided to withdraw their approval of Sylvain Itte and ask him to depart within 48 hours, the statement said.

This decision follows a series of statements and demonstrations hostile toward France since the Nigerien army overthrew President Mohamed Bazoum, who has since been detained with his family.

The military leaders accuse Paris of wanting to intervene militarily in Niger in order to reinstate Bazoum and claim that the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is an organisation in the pocket of former regional colonial power France.

ECOWAS has imposed heavy economic sanctions on Niger following the coup and has threatened the use of armed force to restore constitutional order.

France has some 1,500 troops stationed in Niger to aid in fighting jihadist groups that have plagued the country along with the wider Sahel region for years.