A U.S. State Department spokesperson has clarified that its ambassador has not been expelled from Niger as relations between Western countries and Niamey remain at their lowest stage.
The clarification came after images of letters went viral online calling for the expulsion of certain American diplomatic officials.
“No such request has been made to the U.S. government,” the spokesperson said after AFP reported that the military junta that removed President Mohamed Bazoum from power had given the U.S. ambassador 48 hours to leave the African country.
Recall that the military junta earlier gave French ambassador Sylvain Itte 48 hours to leave Niger, in a foreign ministry announcement.
The statement was in response to “the refusal of the French ambassador in Niamey to respond to an invitation” from the minister for a meeting Friday and “other actions of the French government contrary to the interests of Niger”.
The Abdourahmane Tchiani-led junta accused Paris of wanting to intervene militarily in Niger in order to reinstate Bazoum.
The regime added that the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is an organisation controlled by the former regional colonial power France.
While responding, the French foreign ministry told AFP that “France has taken note of the putschists’ request.”
“The putschists do not have the authority to make this request, the ambassador’s approval coming solely from the legitimate elected Nigerien authorities.”
“We are constantly evaluating the security and operating conditions of our embassy,” the ministry added.
France has about 1,500 troops stationed in Niger to aid the fight against insurgencies ravaging the country for years.