The situation in the west African nation of Niger seems to be edging towards a military confrontation with former colonial power France..
The coup leaders have declared void all military agreements with France, gave ultimatums for the withdrawal of French troops and of the French Ambassador.
Macron has ignored all these decisions by Niger, a decision that moves the parties towards a confrontation.
“Niger’s ruling junta has ordered police to expel France’s ambassador, a move marking a further downturn in relations, and one that authorities in Paris said the army officers who seized power in Niamey last month had no authority to make.
The coup’s leaders are following the strategy of juntas in neighboring Mali and Burkina Faso in distancing themselves from the region’s former colonial power amid a wave of anti-French sentiment.
The visas of French ambassador Sylvain Itte and his family have been cancelled and police are instructed to expel the envoy, the junta said in a statement dated Aug. 29 and confirmed as authentic on Thursday by its communications head.”
Coup leaders last week ordered ambassador Itte to leave the country ‘within 48 hours’, in response to actions by France that are ‘contrary to the interests of Niger’, including a refusal to respond to an invitation to meet Niger’s new foreign minister.
France has repeatedly called for the reinstating of Niger’s ousted president Mohamed Bazoum.
Paris has also not officially recognized any decision by the junta to revoke bilateral military agreements, saying current leaders are not ‘legitimate authorities’.
“Similarly, the French foreign ministry said on Thursday the coup leader did not have the authority to ask the ambassador to leave, adding that it was ‘constantly assessing the security and operating conditions of our embassy’.”
Military tensions are rising, as the French authorities, who have declared support for efforts by ECOWAS to overturn the coup, including the use of military force, now singal they may be involved, too.
The French military declared to be ready to respond if Niger targets its military or diplomatic facilities.
Andalou Agency reported:
“‘The French army is ready to respond to any renewed tension that would target French military and diplomatic facilities in Niger’, the French General Staff told Anadolu in a written statement.
‘The soldiers have been limited in their activities to the air base in Niamey and the outposts since July 26, as the military partnership with Nigerien Armed Forces has been suspended’, the statement also read.”
Meanwhile, Niger cancelled the visa for Ambassador Itte, who ‘no longer enjoys the privileges and immunities attached to his status as a member of the embassy’s diplomatic staff’.
Al Jazeera reported:
“Colonel Amadou Abdramane said on Friday that Macron’s recent comments ‘constitute further blatant interference in Niger’s domestic affairs’.”
Macron has publicly backed the tough stance of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), including threats of military action.
“France, [Macron] said, ‘supports [ECOWAS’s] diplomatic action and, when it so decides, [its] military’ action.”
“Mr Macron’s comments and his unceasing efforts in favour of an invasion of Niger aim at perpetuating a neocolonial operation against the Nigerien people, who ask for nothing more than to decide its own destiny for itself.”
Paris refuses to pull its 1,500 troops out of Niger.
“’I speak every day to President Bazoum. We support him. We do not recognize those who carried out the putsch. The decisions we will take, whatever they may be, will be based upon exchanges with Bazoum’, said Macron.”
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