The French military has announced its readiness to respond if rising tensions in Niger target its military and diplomatic facilities in the West African country.
“The French army is ready to respond to any renewed tension that would target French military and diplomatic facilities in Niger,” the Turkish news agency quoted the French General Staff in a written statement.
Relations between France and Niger remain at its lowest state in recent weeks following the removal of Niger’s democratically elected President Mohamed Bazoum, Paris’ main ally in the region.
The ties between the two countries further slipped down the line after the Foreign Ministry gave French Ambassador Sylvain Itte 48 hours to “leave Nigerien territory.”
Ambassador Itte refused to comply and remained in Niger. French President Emmanuel Macron praised her decision while stressing that the junta has no power to kick out the envoy.
In a letter submitted to the French Foreign Ministry on Thursday, Niger’s military leadership ordered the expulsion of the French ambassador, while saying that the envoy “no longer enjoys the privileges and immunities attached to his status as a member of the embassy’s diplomatic staff.”
Paris has angered Niamey after the French authorities demanded for Niger’s ousted president Mohamed Bazoum to be returned to office and promised to back efforts by ECOWAS to overturn the coup.
The West African regional group ECOWAS placed sanctions on Niger, causing food and humanitarian deliveries to one of the world’s poorest countries to be on a stand still.