A poster ‘We don’t want France anymore’ is seen during a women’s protest against the barracks of the French contingent in the Niger capital Niamey
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France’s ambassador to Niger, Sylvain It, left the country on Wednesday after President Emmanuel Macron announced last week that he would withdraw the diplomat, who along with several of his staff had been holed up in the embassy since the military coup in late July.
According to “Radio France Internationale”, It flew from Niamey to the capital of Chad, N’Djamena, from where it will continue to Paris.
The radio station noted that It’s departure marked the end of weeks of confrontation between Paris and the military junta that seized power in Niger in July.
The coup plotters declared the French ambassador persona non grata in late August. Since then, the head of diplomatic mission and six members of his team have been living in the embassy under strict surveillance by the Nigerien military.
Burkina Faso chases French diplomat, Niger keeps ambassador without food
Initially, the French government, which does not recognize the regime that seized power in Niger, insisted on maintaining the presence of its ambassador in the country. President Macron has announced that 1,500 French soldiers who have been helping to deal with Islamic militia incursions will also leave Niger by the end of the year.
France withdraws its military and ambassador from Niger
Juntas in Mali and Burkina Faso have already expelled French forces deployed to help fight a decade-long Islamist insurgency that has killed thousands and displaced millions across the Sahel region.
Some analysts have expressed concern that the withdrawal of French troops from Niger could further hamper Western efforts to stem the violence that has escalated since the coups and strengthen Russian influence in the region.
On July 26, part of the soldiers of Niger’s presidential guard removed the head of state, Mohamed Bazum, and announced their chief, Gen. Abdurahman Chiani for new leader.
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the European Union, France and a number of other countries condemned the military coup and demanded Bazum’s release and his reinstatement as president.