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Niger junta revokes French ambassador’s diplomatic immunity, orders his expulsion

Author: Editors Desk Source: France 24
August 31, 2023 at 09:21
File photo of Niger police officers outside the French Embassy in Niamey taken on August 28, 2023. © AFP
File photo of Niger police officers outside the French Embassy in Niamey taken on August 28, 2023. © AFP
Niger's military junta said it revoked the diplomatic immunity of France's ambassador and ordered police to expel him from the country, according to a statement. The French foreign ministry has said the junta, which seized power last month, has "no authority" to expel the French ambassador. 

The mutinous soldiers who ousted Niger’s president more than one month ago gave French Ambassador Sylvain Itte 48 hours to leave the country last week. The deadline expired on August 28 without France recalling Itte. 

The French government says it does not recognise the coup rulers as the country's legitimate leaders. 

French President Emmanuel Macron on Monday said the ambassador would stay in the country despite the junta's pressure.

The latest communique sent by Niger's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Itte "no longer enjoys the privileges and immunities attached to his status as a member of the diplomatic staff of the embassy." 

The document also said the diplomatic cards and visas of the ambassador's families have been canceled. 


Since toppling Niger's democratically elected President Mohamed Bazoum, the junta has leveraged anti-French sentiment among the population to shore up its support. People chant “Down with France” at near daily rallies in front of a French military base in the capital, Niamey.

Regional tensions rising

France has some 1,500 military personnel in Niger who trained and conducted joint operations with Nigerien security forces to beat back a growing jihadi insurgency linked to al Qaeda and the Islamic State (IS) group. The operations have ceased since the coup, and jihadist attacks are increasing.

Insurgents killed 17 soldiers and wounded nearly 24 this month, the first major attack in half a year against the army in Niger.

Regional tensions are also rising as the junta ignores calls from other West African countries to release and reinstate Bazoum, even amid the threat of military force.

The regional bloc ECOWAS deployed a “standby” force and ordered it to transition Niger back to constitutional rule. The force has not yet entered Niger, and the bloc says the door remains open to dialogue but it won’t wait forever.

The junta has appointed a new government and said it would return Niger to the system of government prescribed by the constitution within three years, a timeline that ECOWAS has rejected. 

(FRANCE 24 with AP and Reuters)

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