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French President Emmanuel Macron Says Niger Ambassador Held Captive By Military Junta

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President Emmanuel Macron on Friday said that the military junta that has taken control of the country of Niger is holding the French ambassador there captive. The French President added that country’s envoy to Niger and his staff are “literally” living like hostages in the embassy.

While accusing the junta of obstructing food delivery to the consulate, where the diplomatic staff is living in appalling conditions, Macron stated that envoy Sylvain Itte continues to be persona non grata.

During his visit to Burgundy, talking to reporters, Macron said, “As we speak, we have an ambassador and diplomatic members which are being literally held hostage at the French embassy, and food is prevented from being delivered. They’re eating military rations. They are preventing food deliveries. He is eating military rations.”

When asked if his administration had any plans to return Itte to his country, Macron responded, “I will do whatever we agree with President Bazoum because he is the legitimate authority and I speak with him every day.”

Notably, Itte was instructed to leave the nation as soon as possible by the military rulers who deposed President Mohamed Bazoum on July 26. The French government, however, refused to comply and to accept the military dictatorship as legitimate even after the 48-hour deadline had passed.

The ambassador “is working” at the consulate, according to Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna, and would remain there for as long as his country required. Media reports quoted Colonna as saying, “He is very useful for us with his contacts and those of his team.”

The EU, which has backed Macron’s refusal to comply with the demand to recall the French ambassador and called it “a provocation,” has supported Macron’s stance for weeks. According to EU spokesperson for foreign affairs Nabila Massrali last month, the EU, like France, “does not recognise” the government that seized control of Niger.

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