The French ambassador to Niger, asked to leave the country by the military authorities in power, is still in Niamey, at the request of Emmanuel Macron.
We have known the less reckless Élysée, whether in Mali or Burkina Faso. But Niger remained, until recently, the last backyard of Paris. And Emmanuel Macron, the French president, doesn't seem to want that to change. Yet, the military took power in Niamey, and Mohamed Bazoum fell into oblivion, despite threats from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to intervene militarily.
Between the military junta now in place in Niger and France, relations have become strained. Until last weekend. The soldiers then gave Paris 48 hours to get the French ambassador to Niger to leave Niamey. It was Sunday that the ultimatum expired. And at the time these lines are written, Sylvain Itté is still in Niger.
A presence now deemed "illegal" by the power in place. But on the side of France, they claim to support ECOWAS and not to recognize the putschists, as long as Mohamed Bazoum has not resigned. Emmanuel Macron believes that “certain neo-imperialist powers” have, in recent days, “fueled anti-French sentiment” in Africa. Macron was aiming, without saying so, at Russia.
On the side of Sylvain Itté, the diplomat no longer publishes on social networks, but keeps this mention in his biography on X: "Currently Ambassador to Niger". Supported by the European Union, the French ambassador takes the risk of staying illegally in Niger, even if it means being accused of not respecting the sovereignty of the country.
But, accepting Macron's recommendations, does Itté risk anything? Yes, according to Event Niger. The newspaper affirms that diplomatic relations between the two countries are governed by the Vienna Convention and that it is up to Niger alone to decide whether to declare the diplomat "persona non grata". It is in his “interest and that of his country that he leaves because he loses the benefit of his immunities and becomes an ordinary foreign national”, indicates the media which ensures that Itté no longer has its approval.