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French ambassador refuses to depart Niger despite ultimatum

In a bold display of defiance, France’s ambassador to Niger, Sylvain Itte has chosen to remain in the country despite facing pressure from the leaders of a recent coup.

French President Emmanuel Macron has expressed his support for Niger’s ousted President Mohamed Bazoum and emphasised France’s solidarity with the country. Macron also stated that France is prepared to assist the Economic Community of West African States in any military action in Niger.

During a foreign policy speech to gathered ambassadors in Paris, Macron acknowledged the challenging situations that French diplomats have faced in recent months. He commended Sylvain Itte, the French envoy listening in from Niger’s capital Niamey, for his dedication and professionalism. Itte had been given a 48-hour ultimatum to leave the country last Friday but chose to defy the deadline.

The coup in Niger, which toppled President Bazoum on July 26, has drawn international condemnation, including from France and most of Niger’s neighbouring countries. Bazoum and his family are currently detained at the presidential palace. ECOWAS has been engaging in diplomatic negotiations with the coup leaders but has made it clear that it is prepared to deploy troops if these efforts fail to restore constitutional order.

France’s refusal to comply with the ultimatum highlights its unwavering commitment to its allies and its stance against undemocratic regime change. By standing firmly with President Bazoum, Macron has emphasised the importance of upholding democratic principles and the rule of law. The ambassador’s decision to remain in Niger serves as a symbol of France’s solidarity with the nation and its people.

Moreover, Macron’s support for possible military action by ECOWAS underscores the international community’s determination to protect democratic institutions in Niger. ECOWAS has played a crucial role in mediating conflicts and maintaining stability in the region, and its readiness to deploy troops demonstrates its commitment to upholding democratic values.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Niger recently announced that French ambassador Itte has been given 48 hours to leave the country. This decision comes after Itte refused to meet with the new rulers and due to actions taken by the French government that were deemed “contrary to the interests of Niger.”

French ambassador refuses to depart Niger despite ultimatum
French President Emmanuel Macron delivers a speech as he meets the French community in Beijing, China, April 5, 2023 [Gonzalo Fuentes/Reuters]
French President Macron has made it clear that France will not change its stance on condemning the coup and offering support to President Bazoum, who was democratically elected. Macron highlighted the courage of President Bazoum and expressed appreciation for the commitments of the French ambassador on the ground, who is remaining despite pressure from illegitimate authorities.

According to Macron, this policy demonstrates their unwavering support for democracy and their dedication to standing by legitimate leaders.


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