In a new development in the tense relationship between Niger and France, since the military coup that the country witnessed, a leaked letter from the military junta revealed the lifting of diplomatic immunity for the French ambassador.
A letter addressed from the Nigerian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to its French counterpart showed that the immunity of French Ambassador Sylvain Etty and his family had been lifted, after the expiration of the 48-hour deadline granted to him a few days ago.
The letter also explained that it was decided to “deprive him of all privileges as well, because he exceeded the period that was granted to him verbally.”
The leaked message
The police will remove him
The message obtained by Al Arabiya/Al Hadath on Thursday confirmed that the police would deport him from the country.
However, this letter was signed on August 29, that is, a day after the expiry of the deadline granted by the military to the ambassador.
Why does France insist on keeping its ambassador in Niamey?
But for two days, no action has been taken regarding this issue, which has raised the bar for the military’s challenge to France, the country’s former colonial power.
He won’t leave
On August 28, French President Emmanuel Macron confirmed that his country’s ambassador would not leave, saluting the courage of the French diplomats in Niamey, who demonstrated their commitment to their responsibilities.
During the past few days, the vicinity of the embassy witnessed angry protests demanding the departure of the ambassador and support for the military junta that tightened its grip on power in the country late last month. The women also banged pots in front of the French military base, stressing that they would no longer “cook” for the French soldiers.
The embassy site also witnessed a security alert by the Nigerian police, while about 200 French soldiers were present inside the embassy building, according to what Al-Arabiya / Al-Hadath correspondent confirmed.
The capital, Niamey, hosts a large French military base, which includes dozens of military aircraft, which is relied upon to confront armed groups on the African coast.
It also undertakes the tasks of monitoring waves of irregular African migration towards Europe.
The size of the French forces in Niger in general is limited, and does not exceed 1,500 members.
But since the military coup last July 26, hostility towards Paris has grown, especially with the military accusing it of encouraging the Economic Community of West African States to intervene militarily in order to return power to deposed President Mohamed Bazoum.