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Macron: French Ambassador Reportedly Held Hostage in Niger

In a concerning development, President Emmanuel Macron has stated that France’s ambassador to Niger is being held hostage within the French embassy.

Macron accused the military rulers of Niger of blocking food deliveries to the embassy, leaving the ambassador to survive on “military rations. The situation has raised serious concerns a bout the well-being and safety of the diplomatic staff.

Macron: French Ambassador Reportedly Held Hostage in Niger
French President Emmanuel Macron has for weeks rejected the ruling military’s call to remove the French ambassador [AFP]
Macron made these remarks while addressing reporters in Semur-en-Auxois, where he brought attention to the dire conditions the ambassador and diplomatic staff are facing. He expressed his dismay at the treatment of the ambassador, stating, “As we speak, we have an ambassador and diplomatic staff who are literally being held hostage in the French embassy.” Macron then went on to explain that food deliveries are being prevented, leaving the ambassador with no choice but to rely on military rations for sustenance.

The root cause of this hostage situation is linked to the recent overthrowing of President Mohamed Bazoum on 26 July by Nigeria’s military leaders. Following the coup, the military rulers demanded that the French ambassador, Sylvain Itte, leave the country. However, the French government refused to comply with the 48-hour ultimatum, indicating its rejection of the military government’s legitimacy.

The coup in Niger has drawn widespread condemnation from France and many of Niger’s neighbouring countries. The international community remains deeply concerned about the political instability and ensuing humanitarian crisis that may arise from these events.

Macron emphasised the urgency of the situation, stating that the ambassador’s living conditions are dire. He revealed that Itte is unable to leave the embassy and has been declared persona non grata by the military rulers. Macron further expressed his commitment to resolving the crisis in collaboration with President Bazoum. He underscored the importance of working together with the legitimate authority to address the issue and ensure the safety and well-being of the ambassador and diplomatic staff.

France currently maintains approximately 1,500 soldiers in Niger, and Macron clarified that any redeployment of troops can only be negotiated with President Bazoum. This statement highlights France’s stance on recognizing the ousted president as the legitimate authority and its commitment to supporting the internationally recognized government.

The country’s new leadership has made the decision to revise its military cooperation agreements with France and has requested the prompt withdrawal of troops.

Despite calls for the removal of the French ambassador, President Macron has maintained his position, which has been supported by the EU.

The EU, like France, does not recognize the current authorities in Niger. The Sahel region has experienced a series of coups in recent years, which has led to military regimes replacing elected governments in several countries, including Niger.

Recently, Colonel Amadou Abdramane, a spokesperson for Niger’s coup leaders, accused France of amassing forces and equipment in West African countries with the intention of launching a military intervention against Niamey.

Additionally, Niger is currently in a diplomatic standoff with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), which has threatened military intervention if diplomatic efforts to restore Bazoum to office are unsuccessful.

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