French President Emmanuel Macron said on Monday that the ambassador of France to Niger remains in the coup-hit Sahel country, despite an ultimatum from the new army leaders to vacate his position.
During a major foreign policy speech to ambassadors in Paris, Macron confirmed that French envoy Sylvain Itte listened in from Niger’s capital, Niamey, despite the country giving him a 48-hour deadline to leave last Friday.
“I applaud your colleague and your colleagues who are listening from their posts because France and its diplomats have faced particularly difficult situations in some countries in recent months, from Sudan, where France has been exemplary, to Niger at this very moment,” Macron said.
On July 26, a coup toppled Niger President Mohamed Bazoum, and the coup leaders detained him and his family at the presidential palace. France and most of Niger’s neighbours have condemned the coup.
On Friday, the new Niger regime announced that they were giving French Ambassador Itte 48 hours to leave. They claimed that he had refused to meet with the new rulers and cited French government actions that they believed were “contrary to the interests of Niger”.
Macron insisted, “France will not change its position in condemning the coup and offering support to Bazoum.” He stressed that Bazoum had been democratically elected and was showing courage by refusing to resign.
Macron stated, “We clearly do not recognise the putschists. They are abandoning the fight against terrorism.”
Later on Monday, the EU also offered support.
Nabila Massrali, EU spokeswoman for foreign affairs, said, “The putschists’ decision to expel the French ambassador is a new provocation that cannot in any way help find a diplomatic solution to the current crisis.”
She stated, “The EU does not recognise” the authorities that seized power in Niger, adding that the bloc “does not recognise” the new Niger government.