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Niger holds its ambassador “hostage” – France – RT Africa

President Macron lamented that envoy to Niamey was reduced to military rations

French President Emmanuel Macron complained on Friday that France’s envoy to Niger was under siege by the military government in Niamey, two weeks after Ambassador Sylvain Itte’s accreditation was revoked.

“As we speak, we have an ambassador and diplomats who are literally being held hostage at the French embassy,” Macron told reporters during his visit to Semur-en-Auxois in Burgundy.

“They are preventing food deliveries” he said, apparently referring to the Nigerian police. “He eats military rations.”

The ambassador “cannot go out, he is persona non grata and he is refused food,” added the president. Asked if he would consider bringing Itte home, Macron said he would do “whatever we agree with President Bazoum, because he is the legitimate authority and I speak to him every day.” .

Mohamed Bazoum was ousted by a group of Nigerien generals on July 26. The military government expelled Itte in late August, but the ambassador refused to leave, arguing that only Bazoum’s government was legitimate. Thousands of Nigeriens have since demonstrated in front of the French embassy against the former colonial power, demanding the departure of the envoy and the approximately 1,500 soldiers Paris still has in the country.

Macron responded by saying the military government had no legitimacy and that Itte’s expulsion was a “provocation.” The EU supported Paris, noting that Brussels does not recognize the legitimacy of the current government in Niamey.

Several of Niger’s neighbors in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) have threatened to send troops to restore Bazoum, but have yet to take action. Meanwhile, Mali and Burkina Faso declared that any attack on Niger would also be a declaration of war against them and signed a treaty with Niamey to send military aid in that eventuality.

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