Niger’s military junta has requested the French ambassador to leave the country, according to a report by Al Jazeera.
The international crisis in the West African nation has escalated further following a coup that removed the democratically elected president.
French Ambassador Sylvain Itte was given 48 hours to depart Niger in a letter accusing him of disregarding an invitation for a meeting with the foreign ministry.
The letter, dated Friday, also mentioned actions by the French government that were against Niger’s interests as reasons for Itte’s expulsion. In response, France’s foreign ministry stated that Niger’s coup leaders do not have the authority to ask their ambassador to leave.
Niger, a former French colony, was an ally of France in the fight against armed groups before the recent coup. Anti-French sentiment has been growing in the region after recent coups, with some locals accusing France of interfering in their affairs.
French President Emmanuel Macron criticized Niger’s coup-makers and called for the release of deposed President Mohamed Bazoum. General Abdrahmane Tchiani, the military leader, signed two executive orders permitting the security forces of Burkina Faso and Mali to intervene on Niger’s territory in the event of aggression.
This was announced by military official Oumarou Ibrahim Sidi after a meeting with a delegation from the two countries in the capital, Niamey, according to Al Jazeera.
Sidi did not give further details about the military support from Burkina Faso and Mali, whose military governments have stated that any use of force by the West African bloc ECOWAS against Niger’s military government would be considered an act of war against their own nations.
This agreement is the latest action taken by Niger’s soldiers to defy sanctions and consolidate military leadership, with plans to rule for up to three years, further escalating the crisis after last month’s coup in the country with a population of over 25 million.