President Macron claims French ambassador to Niger ‘held hostage, living off food rations’


NIGER – French President, Emmanuel Macron, said on Friday that France’s envoy to Niger is living like a hostage in the French embassy.

According to France24 news, Macron had accused military rulers of blocking food deliveries to the mission.

“The ambassador is living off “military rations.”

As we speak, we have an ambassador and diplomatic staff who are literally being held hostage in the French embassy.

“They are preventing food deliveries,” he said, in an apparent reference to Niger’s new military rulers. He is eating military rations,” Macron told reporters in the eastern town of Semur-en-Auxois.

Niger’s military leaders told French ambassador, Sylvain Itte, he had to leave the country after they overthrew President Mohamed Bazoum on July 26.

Read more: President Hichilema to meet France’s Macron over debt restructuring

But a 48-hour ultimatum for him to leave, issued in August, passed with him still in place as the French government refused to comply, or to recognise the military regime as legitimate.

The coup has been condemned by France and most of Niger’s neighbours.

Macron said the envoy “cannot go out, he is persona non grata and he is being refused food”.

Asked whether France would consider bringing him home, Macron said: “I will do whatever we agree with President Bazoum because he is the legitimate authority and I speak with him every day.”

France keeps about 1,500 soldiers in Niger, and said earlier this month that any redeployment could only be negotiated with Bazoum.

The country’s new leaders have torn up military cooperation agreements with France and asked the troops to leave quickly.

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