After President Emmanuel Macron declined the Niger junta ultimatum to withdraw the French diplomatic mission from the West African country, tensions continue to escalate as it now surfaces that France’s ambassador to Niger ‘is being held hostage in the French embassy’.
France 24 reported:
“The ambassador is living off ‘military rations’, Macron told reporters in the eastern town of Semur-en-Auxois.
‘As we speak, we have an ambassador and diplomatic staff who are literally being held hostage in the French embassy’, he said.
‘They are preventing food deliveries’, he said, in an apparent reference to Niger’s new military rulers. ‘He is eating military rations’.
Niger’s military leaders told French ambassador Sylvain Itte he had to leave the country after they overthrew President Mohamed Bazoum on July 26.
But a 48-hour ultimatum for him to leave, issued in August, passed with him still in place as the French government refused to comply, or to recognise the military regime as legitimate.”
This worrying development comes right after Niger military arrested a Frech elected official, Stephane Jullien, counsellor for French citizens abroad.
Associated Press: “The Foreign Ministry did not elaborate on where and how Jullien was arrested or whether officials in Paris knew where he was being held. It said only that France was following the situation closely and was ‘fully mobilized’ to assure him the protections due to anyone in another country.”
The Niger junta also accused France of massing troops and military equipment in neighboring countries, in what seems a clear preparation for an invasion of of post-coup Niger.
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