Niger’s Coup Plotters Give French Envoy 48 Hours To Leave

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Most Nigeriens are in support of the military junta against France.

Niamey - August 26 - (Mediaage NG News) – Niger’s military junta on Friday issued a 48 hour ultimatum to the French Ambassador, Sylvain Itte to leave the country, amid continued deteriorating bilateral ties between the two countries.

But, France, a strong opposition to July’s coup, said the “putschists have no authority” to make such an expulsion.

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France is a former colonial power of Niger and want ousted President, Mohammed Bazoum to be restored back to power.

Niger’s coup plotters say Mr. Itte had refused to honour an invitation to meet Niger’s Foreign Minister, installed by the junta.

This follows a series of statements and demonstrations hostile towards France.

The French Foreign Ministry responded by saying that it had “taken note of the putschists”, the AFP news agency reported.

“The putschists do not have the authority to make this request, the ambassador’s approval coming solely from the legitimate elected Nigerien authorities,” the ministry added.

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Gen Abdourahamane Tchiani, Niger’s coup leader, last week pledged to return the West African nation to civilian rule within three years. The junta leader says Niger does not want a war but will defend itself.

He made the announcement after meeting mediators from the West African regional bloc Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in the capital, Niamey.

However, ECOWAS rejected the three-year timeframe after talks on Sunday.

ECOWAS led by its Chairman, President Bola Tinubu of Nigeria, has threatened military action to reverse last month’s overthrow of President Bazoum if talks fail.

“If an attack were to be undertaken against us, it will not be the walk in the park some people seem to think”, the junta leader warned.

Gen Tchiani also reiterated criticism of what he called the “illegal and inhumane” sanctions imposed by ECOWAS on the landlocked impoverished country. This has included cutting electricity supply that led to blackouts in Niamey and other major cities, as well as blocking crucial imports.

Lorry drivers have been stuck for weeks waiting to bring in supplies, forcing up food prices.

“ECOWAS is not accepting any prolonged transition again in the region. They just have to get ready to hand over in the shortest possible time”, Abdel-Fatau Musah, the bloc’s commissioner for political affairs, peace and security, said while speaking with the BBC. He said the “military aspect is very much on”.

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