President Macron is putting pressure back on the putschists who overthrew President Bazoum.
The French president’s sentence this Friday reminded us that the crisis between the Nigerien junta and France is far from over. “In Niger, as I speak to you, we have an ambassador and diplomatic members who are literally taken hostage at the French embassy. We are preventing food from being delivered. He eats on military rations”declared the Head of State during a trip to Côte-d’Or.
Ambassador Sylvain Itté did not “no longer able to go out, he is persona non grata and we refuse to allow him to eat”added Mr. Macron.
Asked about a possible repatriation of the ambassador to Paris, the head of state replied: “I will do what we agree with President Bazoum because he is the legitimate authority and I speak to him every day.”
Mohamed Bazoum, the president elected and dismissed by the military on July 26, is still considered by France as the legitimate head of state of Niger.
Since taking power, the putschists have demanded the departure of the French ambassador. At the end of August, they ordered his expulsion. Paris refuses, explaining that the junta does not have the authority to base this request.
President Macron, who has always supported a military intervention by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to restore the power of his counterpart Mohamed Bazoum, does not despair of creating breaches in the military front who took power. Certain signs of tension exist and are maintained. Paris also refuses to consider the departure of its 1,500 men deployed in the country, while the junta has denounced the military cooperation agreements between the two countries… Paris, isolated on this Niger issue (Washington which also has troops in Niger took a more “pragmatic” approach) intends to exhaust all the recourses at its disposal to push back or overthrow the junta. The game will be close but Paris is at stake for its future – already in serious jeopardy – in the region and across the continent.