Niger junta orders police to evict French ambassador

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The Niger junta has ordered the police to forcefully evict French ambassador, Ambassador Sylvain Itte, from the country.

On August 25, Niger’s foreign ministry announced that Itte had 48 hours to leave, saying he had refused to meet with the new rulers and citing French government actions that were “contrary to the interests of Niger”.

France President, Emmanuel Macron, insisted that France would not change its position in condemning the coup and offering support to Bazoum, stressing he had been democratically elected and was being “courageous” by refusing to resign.

Macron on Monday said the ambassador would stay in the country despite the junta’s pressure.

The visas of French ambassador and his family have been cancelled and police are instructed to expel the envoy, the junta said in a statement dated Aug. 29 and confirmed as authentic on Thursday by its communications head, according to Reuters.

The latest communique sent by Niger’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Itte “no longer enjoys the privileges and immunities attached to his status as a member of the diplomatic staff of the embassy.

“The police have been instructed to carry out his expulsion.”

The document also said the diplomatic cards and visas of the ambassador’s families have been canceled, adding that

Since ousting Niger’s democratically elected Bazoum, the junta has leveraged anti-French sentiment among the population to shore up its support.

The regional bloc, ECOWAS deployed a “standby” force and ordered it to transition Niger back to constitutional rule. The force has not yet entered Niger, and the bloc says the door remains open to dialogue but it won’t wait forever.

The junta has appointed a new government and said it would return Niger to the system of government prescribed by the constitution within three years, a timeline that ECOWAS has rejected.