World News

Macron says French ambassador to Niger is “held hostage” at embassy

President Emmanuel Macron said Friday that France’s envoy to Niger was living like a hostage in the French embassy and accused military leaders of blocking food deliveries to the mission.

Published on:

2 minutes

The ambassador lives on “military rations,” Macron told reporters in Semur-en-Auxois, in the east of the country.

“Literally being held hostage”

“As we speak, we have an ambassador and diplomats who are literally being held hostage at the French embassy,” he said.

“They are preventing food deliveries,” he said, apparently referring to Niger’s new military rulers. “He eats military rations.”

Niger’s military leaders have told French Ambassador Sylvain Itte that he must leave the country after overthrowing President Mohamed Bazoum on July 26.

But a 48-hour ultimatum for him to leave, issued in August, passed while he was still in place, with the French government refusing to comply or recognize the legitimacy of military rule.

The coup was condemned by France and most of Niger’s neighbors.

“Food refused”

Macron said the envoy “cannot go out, he is persona non grata and he is being refused food.”

Asked if France would consider repatriating him, Macron replied: “I will do whatever we agree with President Bazoum because he is the legitimate authority and I speak to him every day.”

France maintains around 1,500 troops in Niger and said earlier this month that any redeployment could only be negotiated with Bazoum.

The country’s new leaders broke military cooperation agreements with France and asked troops to leave quickly.

Macron has for weeks rejected the call to dismiss the French ambassador, a position supported by the EU which called the request a “provocation”.

Like France, EU foreign affairs spokesperson Nabila Massrali said last month, the EU “does not recognize” the authorities who took power in Niger.

The impoverished Sahel region south of the Sahara has suffered what Macron called an “epidemic” of coups in recent years, with military regimes replacing elected governments in Mali, Burkina Faso, Guinea as well. than in Niger.

(with press wires)


Back to top button