France to Niger’s Junta: You Have No Authority to Expel Our Ambassador

France has rejected the order by Niger’s junta who gave the French ambassador Sylvain Itte 48 hours to quit the country.

“France has taken note of the putschists’ request,” the ministry told AFP.

“The putschists do not have the authority to make this request, the ambassador’s approval coming solely from the legitimate elected Nigerien authorities.”

“We are constantly evaluating the security and operating conditions of our embassy,” the ministry added.

Earlier Friday, the military rulers who seized control in Niamey on July 26 gave French ambassador Sylvain Itte 48 hours to leave Niger, in a foreign ministry announcement.

Their statement was in response to “the refusal of the French ambassador in Niamey to respond to an invitation” from the minister for a meeting Friday and “other actions of the French government contrary to the interests of Niger”.

This decision followed a series of statements and demonstrations hostile towards France since the Nigerien army overthrew President Mohamed Bazoum, who has since been detained with his family.

The military leaders accuses Paris of wanting to intervene militarily in Niger in order to reinstate Bazoum and claimed that the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) was an organisation in the pocket of former regional colonial power, France.

ECOWAS had imposed heavy economic sanctions on Niger following the coup and had threatened the use of armed force to restore constitutional order.

France has some 1,500 troops stationed in Niger to aid in fighting jihadist groups that had plagued the country along with the wider Sahel region for years.