The Abdourahmane Tchiani-led junta has expelled the French ambassador to Niger from the country as relations continue to worsen between Niamey and Paris.
The Nigerien foreign ministry stated in a statement that the decision to eject the ambassador was made in response to moves carried out by the French government that were “contrary to the interests of Niger.”
It stated that among these were the envoy’s unwillingness to respond to a request to meet with Niger’s new foreign minister.
While responding, the French foreign ministry said the coup leaders do not have the authority to expel the diplomat, saying the ambassador’s approval coming solely from the legitimate elected Nigerien authorities.
The ministry added that , “We are constantly evaluating the security and operating conditions of our embassy.”
France has demanded that President Mohamed Bazoum be reinstated and has stated that it will assist attempts by the West African regional body ECOWAS to overthrow the coup.
These positions have infuriated the Abdourahmane Tchiani-led junta.
The military takeover in Niger, like recent coups in neighboring Burkina Faso and Mali, occurred amid a growing tide of anti-French sentiment, with some locals blaming the European country for meddling in their internal affairs.
Mali and Burkina Faso recently sent out French forces from their countries and severed long-standing ties.