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Niger Orders Expulsion of French Ambassador

Niger Orders Expulsion of French Ambassador

Niamey, the capital of Niger, has witnessed heightened diplomatic tensions as the country’s new military government announced its decision to revoke the diplomatic immunity of France’s ambassador, Sylvain Itte. The move comes after a 48-hour deadline set for the ambassador to leave the country lapsed on Monday.

Strained Diplomatic Relations

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Niamey, in a formal communication to Paris, clarified that Ambassador Itte “no longer enjoys the privileges and immunities attached to his status as a member of the diplomatic staff of the French Embassy.”

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This decision follows a series of events that began last week when the military leaders, who had taken control from President Mohamed Bazoum in a coup on July 26, provided the French ambassador with a 48-hour notice to exit the nation.

The Nigerien Foreign Ministry highlighted that the ambassador had chosen not to accept an invitation for a dialogue with the new leadership. Additionally, the ministry pointed to “other actions” by the French government that were perceived as being in opposition to Niger’s national interests, further justifying their decision for the ambassador’s expulsion.

France’s Stance

Despite the unfolding situation, France has taken a firm position. The French government has chosen not to recall its diplomat from Niger, a former French colony. They have expressed their intention to keep the ambassador stationed in Niamey, even amidst the pressure from what they term as “illegitimate authorities.”

French President Emmanuel Macron, speaking on the matter, reinforced that Paris acknowledges only the deposed President Bazoum as the legitimate governing authority in Niger. Macron also took the opportunity to laud Ambassador Itte and other French diplomats for their unwavering dedication, especially given the challenging circumstances Paris has encountered in some of its former colonies recently.

Latest Developments

However, the Nigerien foreign ministry’s recent announcement has further escalated the situation. They have declared that the ambassador’s “diplomatic cards and visas,” along with those of his immediate family, have been nullified, following the expiration of the ultimatum on August 28. The ministry further stated, “The police have been instructed to carry out his expulsion.”

In response, France’s foreign ministry reiterated on Thursday that the coup leaders lack the jurisdiction to demand the ambassador’s departure. Adding to the voice of caution, Colonel Pierre Gaudilliere, representing the French general staff, emphasized that French forces “are ready to respond to any increase in tension [that] would undermine French military and diplomatic influence in Niger.”

As the situation continues to evolve, the international community watches closely, awaiting the next steps from both nations.

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