French Ambassador kicked out of Niger

25 August 2023
French Ambassador kicked out of Niger

The Nigerien junta, which took control through a coup on July 26, announced on Friday its decision to expel French ambassador Sylvain Itte from the country within 48 hours.

This move comes as the relationship between the West African nation and its former colonial ruler experiences further deterioration. Similar to recent coups in neighbouring Burkina Faso and Mali, the military takeover in Niger occurred amid a growing surge of anti-French sentiment, with certain locals alleging European interference in their internal matters. In an official statement, the junta-appointed foreign ministry conveyed that the expulsion of the ambassador was a direct reaction to actions taken by the French government that were deemed "counter to Niger's interests." Among these actions was the ambassador's refusal to acknowledge an invitation to meet with Niger's new foreign minister.

As of now, the French foreign ministry has not responded immediately to a request for commentary on the matter. France has advocated for the reinstatement of President Mohamed Bazoum after his removal from office and expressed its willingness to support the efforts of the West African regional bloc ECOWAS in reversing the coup. France has also refrained from officially acknowledging the junta's decision in early August to annul a series of military agreements with France, arguing that these were originally endorsed by Niger's "legitimate authorities." The deterioration in relations between Niger and France mirrors the post-coup developments seen in Mali and Burkina Faso, both of which expelled French forces and terminated long-standing connections.

Niger holds strategic importance as one of the globe's largest uranium producers and was a hub for French, U.S., and other foreign troops until the junta took control of the territory and its sovereignty.