France’s ambassador to Niger is currently living under captivity within the French embassy by the military junta that seized control of the West African nation in a July 26 coup, President Emmanuel Macron disclosed on Friday.
Speaking during an interaction with reporters in Semur-en-Auxois, Macron shed light on the dire situation faced by Ambassador Sylvain Itté and other diplomatic personnel.
Macron told those in attendance, “in Niger, as I speak to you we have an ambassador and diplomatic members who are literally being held hostage at the French embassy.” Itté he added, “cannot go out, he is persona non grata and he is being refused food.”
Following the dispossession of President Mohamed Bazoum, the junta, led by General Abdourahamane Tchiani, initially demanded Ambassador Itté’s departure from the country. France has ignored this request and has maintained that the junta lacks the authority to make such demands.
When questioned about his commitment to facilitating the return of the ambassador, Macron stressed that he “will do whatever we agree on with President Bazoum because he is the legitimate authority and I speak with him every day.”
Since the coup, local supporters of the new government have been demanding the withdrawal of French forces from their former colonial possession.
The European Union has also made clear its stance on the situation, concurring though a spokesperson that it “does not recognize and will not recognize the authorities resulting from the putsch in Niger.”