December 8, 2023

The military junta in Niger has canceled the visa of the French ambassador and instructed police to expel him, after ordering the diplomat last week to leave the country.

In the letter shared by local media on Thursday and attributed to the Nigerien Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the junta said, “The diplomatic cards and the visas of the concerned person and the members of his family are canceled. The police services have been instructed therefore to proceed with his expulsion.”

The decision taken on August 25 regarding the ambassador’s accreditation is “irrevocable,” the junta added in the letter.

French envoy Sylvain Itte was told to leave by the junta for refusing to attend a meeting scheduled with Niger’s foreign minister, including “other actions by the French government that are against Niger’s interest,” the Nigerien foreign ministry said last week.

The junta also warned on Thursday that the ambassador “no longer enjoys the privileges and immunities attached to his status as a member of the diplomatic personnel of the Embassy.”

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

CNN reached out to the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs for comment, who reiterated their statement from August 25 stressing that “the putschists do not have the authority to make this demand.”

“The ambassador’s accreditation comes solely from the legitimately elected authorities in Niger,” the statement added.

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

French President Emmanuel Macron said on Monday that Itte will not leave Niger, despite the expiration of the junta’s deadline for his departure.

Up to 1,500 French soldiers are stationed in Niger, which has been a major partner of the French in the Sahel region.

 

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