1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

France ambassador leaves Niger after withdrawal announcement

September 27, 2023

The French diplomat left the capital of Niamey and has arrived in Paris, the French Foreign Ministry said. The military junta had ordered his expulsion some weeks ago.

Anti-sanctions protestors gather in support of the ruling junta in the capital Niamey on August 3, 2023, with a sign reading: 'Down with France long live CNSP'
Thousands of protesters had taken to the streets with anti-France slogans, like the one photographed above reading 'Down with France long live CNSP (junta)'Image: Stringer/Reuters

France's ambassador to Niger, Sylvain Itte, has left the capital, Niamey, early Wednesday morning and has returned to Paris, the French Foreign Ministry said.

"The ambassador and six colleagues left Niamey around 4 a.m. (0300 GMT)," a diplomatic source from the French Embassy was quoted as saying by the French news agency AFP. Nigerien sources earlier confirmed the departure of the official.

Itte's departure follows the announcement by French President Emmanuel Macron on Sunday that he would recall the ambassador from Niger.

France previously ignored expulsion order

Niger's military junta had ordered Itte's expulsion soon after seizing power in a coup on July 26. The country's leaders reiterated the order in August, setting a 48-hour ultimatum for Itte to leave.

But France ignored the requests, as the country does not recognize the legitimacy of Niger's military government. The EU backed France in its refusal to bring back its ambassador.

The decision sparked daily protests in front of the embassy, along with thousands rallying across the capital to demand the withdrawal of French troops.

Embassy staff 'held hostage' by junta

After ordering Itte's expulsion, Niger's junta stripped him of his diplomatic immunity and his visa, prompting comments from Macron that Itte and his staff were "literally being held hostage" at the embassy.

Macron said Niger's military was also blocking food deliveries to the building and that Itte was living off "military rations."

Despite the pressure from the junta, Macron had insisted on negotiating any deal to withdraw both the ambassador and France's troops with Niger's ousted President Bazoum.

Niger: France to withdraw troops


This browser does not support the video element.

France to withdraw troops as US, Germany wait

Niger's coup leaders ended military agreements with the former colonial power France in August, which will withdraw its around 1,500 troops by the end of this year.

Another 1,100 US troops as well as 100 from Germany's Bundeswehr will stay in Niger until further notice, the countries' defense ministers said on Monday.

Before the military coup in July, Niger was considered one of the West's last reliable partners in West Africa. Burkina Faso and Mali are also currently ruled by military leaders that took power through coups.

fg/fb (AFP, Reuters) 

Skip next section DW's Top Story

DW's Top Story

Skip next section More stories from DW