Niger Coup Leaders Give French Ambassador 48 Hours to Leave Country

Niger Coup Leaders Give French Ambassador 48 Hours to Leave Country

TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Niger’s junta said on Friday it had ordered French ambassador Sylvain Itte to leave the country within 48 hours, as relations between the west African country and its former colonial ruler deteriorated further.

The junta-appointed foreign ministry said the decision to expel the ambassador was a response to actions taken by the French government that were “contrary to the interests of Niger”, The Guardian reported.

These included the envoy’s refusal to respond to an invitation to meet Niger’s new foreign minister, the ministry’s statement said.

July’s military coup in Niger came amid a growing wave of anti-French sentiment, with some locals accusing the European country of interfering in their affairs.

The ultimatum against the French envoy was quickly rejected by Paris, which said it did not recognize the military rulers’ authority.

“The putschists do not have the authority to make this request, the ambassador’s approval coming solely from the legitimate elected Nigerien authorities,” the French foreign ministry said in a statement issue on Friday evening.

The coup has pushed Niger’s longstanding relationship with France to breaking point and this latest move raises further doubts about the future of joint military efforts to fight an extremist insurgency in the conflict-torn Sahel region.

France has called for President Mohamed Bazoum to be returned to office after his ouster and has said it would support efforts by West African regional bloc ECOWAS to overturn the coup.

It has also not officially recognized a decision by the junta in early August to revoke a raft of military agreements with France, saying these had been signed with Niger’s “legitimate authorities”.

The deterioration in Niger-France relations echoes post-coup developments in Mali and Burkina Faso, which have booted out French forces and severed longstanding ties.

Niger has strategic significance as one of the world’s biggest producers of uranium and as a base for French, US and other foreign troops that are helping to fight extremist militant groups in the region.

Source: Tasnim News