Niamey putschists demand French ambassador’s departure. The ultimatum expires on Saturday, September 2. But from Friday 1ᵉʳ September, a giant sit-in will be organized to demand the departure of French troops from Niger. Paris refuses.
The arm wrestling between Niamey and Paris is getting tougher. The putschists who overthrew President Mohamed Bazoum on July 26 now enjoy real popular support. It is therefore with the support of the population that Niamey is demanding the departure of the French. Not only its first representative on Nigerian soil, French ambassador Sylvain Itté, but also its troops (around a thousand men) stationed in the country.
No more diplomatic immunity
The junta has therefore sent Paris an ultimatum in a letter that leaves no doubt as to its determination. In the letter, the Nigerien authorities specify that the ambassador “no longer enjoys the privileges and immunities attached to his status as a member of the diplomatic staff of the French embassy“. His diplomatic cards and visas, as well as those of his family members, have been cancelled. The police are awaiting instructions to proceed with the expulsion of the diplomat and his family. The ultimatum expires on Saturday September 2. Paris has responded by refusing to accept.
A giant sit-in
But Nigeriens want to go further. They are also demanding the departure of French troops stationed in Niger. The Niger News Agency (ANP) announced on Wednesday that a civil society movement, M62, had decided to organize a huge sit-in in front of the French military base this Friday, 1ᵉʳ September 2023, to demand its departure. The demonstration is intended to be peaceful, but determined. It will last three days.
Emmanuel Macron does not intend to bow to pressure from the junta and considers these statements to be those of an illegitimate authority.