July 15, 2024

(Bloomberg) — France’s ambassador to Niger left the country, three days after President Emmanuel Macron said the envoy would be pulled out of the West African nation and French troops withdrawn.

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Ambassador Sylvain Itte left the capital, Niamey, on a plane heading to Paris via Chad, according to two French government officials who asked not to be identified because they’re not authorised to comment. The ambassador left Niger along with six colleagues at about 4 a.m. on Wednesday, Agence France-Presse reported.

Tensions between Niger’s military leaders and its former colonial power have deteriorated since the junta ousted President Mohamed Bazoum in a July 26 coup and severed military ties with France.

Macron initially rejected an Aug. 28 deadline for Itte to depart the country. The junta ordered the ambassador to leave for what it described as French “actions contrary to Niger’s interests.”

The coup leaders on Monday requested a timeline for the withdrawal of the about 1,500 French troops that are stationed in Niger. Macron earlier said the withdrawal would be completed by the end of 2023.

Macron held talks with Nigerien Foreign Minister Hassoumi Massaoudou on Wednesday in which he reiterated France’s support for Bazoum and its desire for a return to constitutional order in the country, according to a statement from the Elysee.

Read More: Macron, in Reversal, Says French Soldiers Will Leave Niger

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