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Niger Demands Departure of French Ambassador Only

Wesam Abo Marq Wesam Abo Marq
Politics
27th August 2023
Niger Demands Departure of French Ambassador Only
Niger ousted French envoy amid false claims on other diplomats (Getty)

Niger's junta asked the French ambassador in Niamey to leave within two days, as per an announcement by the Nigerien Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The ministry's statement, released through the state-controlled ORTN network, indicated that Ambassador Sylvain Itte declined to participate in a scheduled meeting with Niger’s foreign minister. In response to this refusal, the ministry disclosed that Itte's credentials had been revoked by Nigerien authorities.

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Photo Description: A screenshot of the Euro News’ article.

On Friday, the French Foreign Ministry informed AFP that they had acknowledged the request put forth by the coup leaders. The ministry emphasized that the individuals who carried out the coup lacked the official mandate to issue such a demand. They further asserted that the recognition of the ambassador's status is exclusively derived from the legitimate and elected authorities of Niger.

"The putschists do not have the authority to make this demand, the ambassador’s approval comes only from the legitimate, elected Nigerien authorities" the ministry stated.

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Photo Description: A screenshot of CNN's article.

Did Niger Order the U.S, German, and Nigerian Ambassadors to Leave?

As per information from the AFP News Agency and various reports in circulation, it has been indicated that the German, U.S., and Nigerian diplomats have been compelled to depart Niger as a result of a request made by the authorities.

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Photo Description: A screenshot of the AFP’s X post.

The official X account of DW News, a German-affiliated media outlet, also shared that the German Ambassador to Niger was also given 48 hours to leave the country.

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Photo Description: A screenshot of the DW News’ X post.

Moreover, social media users have shared what they claim to be an official statement. This statement purportedly indicates that the leader of the Niger military has made the decision to close the embassies of France, Germany, Nigeria, and the United States. Allegedly, this directive also involves instructing the respective ambassadors to vacate the country within a span of 48 hours.

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Photo Description: A screenshot of the Euro News’ article.

Niger Refutes Expulsion of the U.S, German, and Nigerian Ambassadors

Contrary to the viral claims circulating, the military administration of Niger has issued an order exclusively for the French ambassador to depart the country on Friday. This action does not apply to the German, U.S, or Nigerian envoys, as clarified by the Foreign Ministry. 

In a statement released late on Friday, the ministry refuted the widespread reports that suggested the expulsion of the German, U.S, and Nigerian diplomats. The statement specifically stated that "only the French ambassador in Niger is declared persona non grata."

Based on reports from Reuters and CNN, Niger's Foreign Ministry has communicated with the U.S. government to clarify that the images of letters circulating online, which seemingly called for the departure of specific American diplomatic personnel, were not officially issued by the ministry. A spokesperson from the U.S. State Department commented that they have not received any such request from the Nigerien government.

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Photo Description: A screenshot of the Reuters’ article.

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Photo Description: A screenshot of the CNN’ article.

AFP News Agency and DW News Correct the Fake News

Subsequently, the AFP News Agency retracted the claim it had published regarding the request for the American, German, and Nigerian ambassadors to leave Niger. The post reads, "CORRECTION: The previous posts stating that the German, Nigerian, and U.S. ambassadors to Niger had been ordered to leave the country were based on statements which have since been declared unauthentic by authorities. Those posts will be deleted."

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Photo Description: A screenshot of the AFP’s X post.

Likewise, the DW News media outlet posted in another tweet that it is not yet clear whether the German ambassador has indeed been asked to depart Niger. The post reads, "CORRECTION: It is not yet clear whether the German ambassador has been asked to leave. Reports earlier stated that Niger's coup leaders had asked ambassadors of Germany, France, the US and Nigeria to leave the country."

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Photo Description: A screenshot of the DW’s X post.

Niger’s Recent Coup

The coup took place in late July when members of the Nigerien presidential guard seized Bazoum. Gen. Abdourahamane Tchiani, leading Niger's presidential guard, proclaimed himself the head of a transitional government called the "National Council for the Safeguard of the Homeland."

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Photo Description: A screenshot of the New York Times’ article.

Following this, a special summit involving leaders of the regional economic group, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), took place. During this summit, Tchiani and the other coup leaders were given a seven-day ultimatum to step down and restore Bazoum to power, under the threat of potential military intervention if they failed to comply within the stipulated time frame.

Although the deadline passed without action, ECOWAS initiated preparations for a potential military intervention by activating its standby force. Nonetheless, such preparations are anticipated to take several weeks. A scheduled meeting of defense chiefs from ECOWAS nations, intended to discuss strategies for intervention, was reportedly postponed indefinitely due to technical reasons.

Simultaneously, the ECOWAS Chair and Nigerian President Bola Tinubu persisted in advocating for a diplomatic resolution to the coup. Following an emergency meeting in Abuja, he conveyed his belief that there is still an opportunity for a peaceful settlement. 

ECOWAS has undertaken various measures in response to the coup, including closing borders between Niger and ECOWAS countries, enforcing a no-fly zone for commercial flights involving Niger, freezing the nation's assets in both ECOWAS central banks and commercial banks, and imposing travel bans and asset freezes on individuals associated with the coup and their families.

Foreign nations expressed strong condemnation of the coup. The United States and France went as far as warning that they might sever diplomatic relations with Niger, putting at risk substantial amounts of financial assistance totaling hundreds of millions of dollars.

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