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Thursday, February 29, 2024

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Niger’s Junta Revokes French Ambassador Sylvain Itte’s Visa, Orders Police To Expel Him

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Authorities in France claim that the army officers who overthrew the Niamey government in July lacked the right to order the police to deport France’s ambassador from Niger, a move that further deteriorates relations.

The coup’s leaders are distancing themselves from the former colonial power in the region amid a wave of anti-French sentiment, similar to juntas in neighbouring Mali and Burkina Faso.

The French ambassador Sylvain Itte and his family’s visas have been revoked, and police have been told to expulse the envoy, according to a junta statement dated August 29 that its communications chief certified as genuine on Thursday.

Itte was instructed to leave the nation within 48 hours by the coup’s organisers in response to what they described as France’s “contrary to the interests of Niger” acts. It claimed that among them was the envoy’s denial of a request to speak with Niger’s new foreign minister.

Authorities in Africa and Western countries have denounced the coup. The delivery of food and help to one of the world’s poorest nations has been impeded by sanctions placed on Niger by the regional organisation of West Africa, ECOWAS.

In case diplomatic efforts to restore democracy through discussion fall short, the bloc has additionally vowed to intervene militarily.

The foreign ministers of the European Union decided on Thursday to begin drafting sanctions against those responsible for the coup d’état.

Bola Tinubu, the president of Nigeria and the current chair of ECOWAS, declared on Thursday that a military coup this week in Gabon had validated his concerns about “copy cats” doing the same in other nations. Although he emphasised that military action in Niger should only be taken as a last resort, he also warned that “if we don’t wield the big stick, we will all suffer the consequences”

In addition to calling for Mohamed Bazoum, the ousted president of Niger, to be reinstated in office, France indicated it would back ECOWAS efforts to undo the coup.

With some 1,500 soldiers stationed there to help the local military, France had made Niger the centre of counter-insurgency operations against an Islamist insurgency that has claimed thousands of lives in the Sahel region over the past ten years.

After many left the adjacent countries of Burkina Faso and Mali after their coups, it revised its tactics.

Paris has not formally recognised the junta’s decision to withdraw bilateral military accords, despite the fact that it claims these were negotiated with Niger’s “legitimate authorities.”

Additionally, the French foreign ministry stated on Thursday that it was “constantly assessing the security and operating conditions of our embassy” and that the leader of the coup lacked the power to order the ambassador to leave.

President Emmanuel Macron announced on Monday the ambassador would stay in Niger and restated France’s support for Bazoum.

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