In a significant diplomatic move, the military junta that orchestrated a coup in Niamey on July 26 has expelled the French ambassador, giving the diplomat a strict ultimatum to exit Niger’s borders within 48 hours.
This expulsion was confirmed through an official statement issued by Niger’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Friday. The ministry revealed that the decision was prompted by the French ambassador’s refusal to attend a scheduled meeting with a government minister.
While the statement did not delve into specific details, it emphasized that various actions taken by the French government had been in direct contradiction to the best interests of Niger. The precise nature of these actions was not elaborated upon.
As of the time of this report, there has been no official response from the French Foreign Affairs Ministry regarding this latest development.
Tensions between the coup leaders and the French government have been apparent since the coup took place, with the French government calling for the reinstatement of President Mohamed Bazoum, who was ousted in the coup.
Niger has openly accused French forces of aiding the release of captured “terrorists” and violating the country’s airspace, actions that Niger claims were aimed at destabilizing the nation.
It’s worth noting that in response to the coup, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) imposed stringent economic sanctions on Niger. Additionally, the possibility of employing military force against the junta that took power from President Mohamed Bazoum has not been ruled out.
ECOWAS had sanctioned the deployment of a “standby force to restore constitutional order” in Niger promptly, although diplomatic solutions continue to be explored in addressing the crisis.
France has maintained a contingent of approximately 1,500 troops in Niger to assist in combating jihadist groups that have posed a persistent threat to the country and the broader Sahel region for an extended period.