Thursday, May 30, 2024

France Rejects the Expulsion of its Ambassador by the Niger Junta

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By: Sainabou Gassama

On Thursday, the Niger Junta, through its Ministry of Foreign Affairs, shared a letter through local media, stating:”The diplomatic cards and visas of the concerned individual (Amb. Sylvain Itté) and their family members have been canceled. Police services have been instructed to proceed with their expulsion.”

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The Military Junta leader in Niger, in the same letter, emphasized that the decision taken on August 25 regarding the ambassador’s accreditation is “irrevocable.”

According to the Nigerien Foreign Ministry, the French ambassador, Envoy Sylvain Itté, was asked to leave the country by the junta due to his refusal to attend a scheduled meeting with Niger’s foreign minister and due to “other actions by the French government deemed against Niger’s interests.”

Additionally, the letter warned that the ambassador “no longer enjoys the privileges and immunities attached to his status as a member of the diplomatic personnel of the Embassy.”

However, French President Emmanuel Macron has strongly opposed the decision made by the Junta. In a statement issued on Monday, he declared that the diplomat would not leave Niger, despite the junta’s deadline for his departure.

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A spokesperson for the French presidency informed journalists on Thursday that the ambassador “remains in place” despite the junta’s demands.

Regarding the military junta’s cancellation of the French ambassador’s visa and their instruction to expel him, CNN reached out to the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs for comment. The Ministry reiterated their statement from August 25, emphasizing that “the putschists do not have the authority to make such demands.”

France does not recognize Niger’s military authorities and maintains that deposed President Mohamed Bazoum, who was toppled in a coup last month, remains the country’s only legitimate authority.

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