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Tensions escalate in Niger as military junta expels French Ambassador, other foreign envoys


Tensions escalate in Niger as military junta expels French Ambassador, other foreign envoys

In a rapidly unfolding diplomatic crisis, the military junta in Niger has issued expulsion orders to multiple foreign ambassadors, igniting tensions in the region.

On July 26, 2023, General Abdourahamane Tchiani seized power from Niger’s civilian president, Mohamed Bazoum, and since then, the situation has grown increasingly precarious.

The crisis began when the junta demanded the departure of French Ambassador Sylvain Itte within 48 hours, citing his refusal to attend a meeting and alleged actions by the French government contrary to Niger’s interests.

This move followed accusations that France intended to militarily intervene in Niger to reinstate Bazoum, coupled with claims that the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) was under the influence of former colonial power France.

READ ALSO: Again, Niger coup leaders defy ECOWAS, forge alliance with Burkina Faso, Mali

ECOWAS, in response, imposed severe economic sanctions on Niger and threatened armed intervention to restore constitutional order.

Compounding the crisis, the junta recently ordered the expulsion of German Ambassador Olivier Schnakenberg and Nigerian Ambassador Mohamed Usman under similar circumstances.

Both diplomats were given 48 hours to leave Niger after refusing invitations for discussions and engaging in actions deemed contrary to Niger’s interests.

These developments have raised concerns about the stability of the region, as well as the fate of President Mohamed Bazoum and his family, who remain detained by the military rulers.

Meanwhile, Nigeria’s President, Bola Tinubu, who also chairs ECOWAS, has initiated negotiations with the military government in an effort to resolve the standoff, potentially leading to a military intervention to restore constitutional order.

In a region already grappling with jihadist threats, France has approximately 1,500 troops stationed in Niger, supporting efforts to combat extremist groups that have plagued the country and the wider Sahel region for years.

The expulsion of foreign ambassadors only adds to the uncertainty in Niger and its broader implications for regional stability remain to be seen.

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