Niger Military Junta Expels French Ambassador, Sets 48-Hour Deadline

A comprehensive analysis of the recent decision by the Niger military junta to expel the French ambassador, including the response of ECOWAS and the French government.

The military junta that took control in Niamey following the coup on July 26 has ordered the French ambassador, Sylvain Itte, to leave Niger within 48 hours.

Niger’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that the decision stemmed from the ambassador’s declined meeting with the minister and other French government actions seen as conflicting with Niger’s interests.

The Statement from Niger Ministry of Foreign Affairs

The Ministry’s statement highlighted the French ambassador’s unresponsiveness to a ministerial meeting invitation in Niamey and highlighted further actions by the French government that contradicted Niger’s interests.

Consequently, the authorities decided to withdraw their approval of Sylvain Itte and asked him to depart within 48 hours.

The French Foreign Affairs Ministry has not officially responded to this development at the time of this report.

The coup leaders’ connection with the French government has been strained, as the latter seeks the reinstatement of President Mohamed Bazoum following his removal.

Niger accused French forces of releasing captured “terrorists” and violating the country’s airspace ban in an attempt to destabilize the nation.

ECOWAS Response to the Coup

ECOWAS imposed significant economic sanctions on Niger in response to the coup and did not rule out the use of military force against the junta, which seized power from President Mohamed Bazoum on July 26, 2023.

The West African bloc approved the deployment of a “standby force to restore constitutional order” in Niger as soon as possible but remains committed to finding a diplomatic solution to the crisis.

Abdulsalami Abubakar, ECOWAS envoy to Niger Republic and former Nigerian Head of State, stated that his delegation’s meeting with the Niger Republic coup leaders last weekend was fruitful.

French Troops in Niger

With around 1,500 troops, France aids in countering longstanding jihadist issues in Niger and the wider Sahel region.

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What was the reason for the expulsion of the French ambassador from Niger?

The French ambassador was expelled due to his refusal to attend a meeting with the Nigerien Foreign Affairs Minister and other actions by the French government that Niger deemed contrary to its interests.

What was the response of ECOWAS to the coup in Niger?

ECOWAS imposed heavy economic sanctions on Niger and did not rule out the use of military force against the junta. Yet, they are dedicated to seeking a diplomatic crisis resolution.

What is the French government’s stance on the coup in Niger?

The French government has called for the restoration of President Mohamed Bazoum to office following his ouster and has been accused by Niger of actions contrary to its interests.

How many French troops are stationed in Niger?

Around 1,500 French troops are stationed in Niger aiding the fight against regional jihadist groups.

What does the French ambassador’s expulsion mean for the region?

The expulsion marks a crucial point in the strained Niger-France relationship.
Monitoring the reactions of the French government and the global community is vital to gauge the potential regional implications.

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