Niger junta withdraws French ambassador’s immunity, orders his expulsion

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Niger’s new military rulers have withdrawn the French ambassador’s diplomatic immunity and ordered police to expel him, according to a letter seen Thursday by AFP.

 

The envoy “no longer enjoys the privileges and immunities attached to his status as member of the diplomatic personnel in the French embassy,” according to their letter, dated Tuesday, to the foreign ministry in Paris.

(His) diplomatic cards and visas and those of the members of his family have been cancelled. The police have been instructed to proceed to his expulsion,” it said.

The move follows a coup in the troubled Sahel state on July 26 that toppled a close French ally, President Mohamed Bazoum.

 

Relations with France spiralled downwards after Paris stood by Bazoum and refused to recognise Niger’s new rulers.

 

On Friday, the authorities gave French envoy Sylvain Itte 48 hours to leave the country.

 

France refused the demand, saying that the government had no legal right to make such an order.

 

On Tuesday, French President Emmanuel Macron singled out Itte for praise after he remained at his post.

 

French military spokesman Colonel Pierre Gaudilliere on Thursday warned that “the French military forces are ready to respond to any upturn in tension that could harm French diplomatic and military premises in Niger”.

 

“Measures have been take to protect these premises,” he said.

Lawal AbdulSalam Olawale

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