WHILE recognizing the difficult situations faced by France’s ambassadors to other countries, French President Emmanuel Macron confirmed in a major speech in PARIS on Monday Ambassador Sylvain Itte’s decision to stay put in Niger despite being given a 48-hour deadline on Friday to leave the country.
“France and its diplomats have faced particularly difficult situations in some countries in recent months, from Sudan, where France has been exemplary, to Niger at this very moment,” according to President Emmanuel Macron, France.
The European Union expressed its ‘full support’ for Ambassador Sylvain Itte and President Macron also lauded the French Envoy for having made the choice to remain in Niamey.
“I applaud your colleague and your colleagues who are listening from their posts,” Macron added.
“I think our policy is the right one. It’s based on the courage of President Bazoum, and on the commitments of our ambassador on the ground who is remaining despite all the pressure, despite all the declarations made by the illegitimate authorities.”
“We do not recognize the Putschists. We support a president who has not stepped down, and besides whom we remain engaged,” Macron said.
It can be remembered that Niger’s foreign ministry said the French envoy had refused to meet with the new rulers and cited French government actions that were “contrary to the interests of Niger”.
Pro-coup supporters flock to Niamey stadium to protest against France
Over the weekend, tens of thousands of pro-coup supporters gathered in Niamey’s General Seyni Kountche stadium— the largest in the country – as members of the military leadership, The National Council for the Safeguard of the Homeland (CNSP), held a massive rally to celebrate the first month of the takeover.
Footage shows demonstrators holding placards outside a French military base accusing Paris of interfering in the country’s affairs.
“We’re here because we’re fed up with France, and the politics of blacks who hide behind the people in order to play to be westerners. We’re fed up because we gave an ultimatum to the French to leave our territory, because they’re there just to ruin our lives, not to help us but to plunder us and take our resources,” according to Protest Organizer.
This as France currently has roughly 1,500 troops stationed in Niger as part of a counter-insurgency force in the Sahel Region.
Meanwhile, locals can also be seen holding Nigerien and Russian flags inside the stadium, while military officials were seen waving to the people in the stands.
Current Niger coup— the 5th since 1960 independence from France
To recall, the military coup in Niger took place on the 26th of July replacing democratically elected President Mohamed Bazoum with General Abdourahamane Tchiani, who heads the presidential guard.
The West African Regional Bloc— the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), imposed sanctions and the US, the European Union and other international organizations condemned the actions.
This is the fifth coup in Niger since independence from France in 1960 and the seventh military coup to Occur in West and Central Africa in three years.
Currently, ECOWAS has been trying to negotiate with the leaders of the Niger coup, and has said it is ready to deploy troops to restore constitutional order if diplomatic efforts fail.