Tensions escalate between the military junta in Niamey, which seized control in a coup on July 26, and the French government, as the junta orders the expulsion of the French ambassador, demanding the diplomat’s departure from Niger within 48 hours.

Niger’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs disclosed this development in a statement released on Friday. The decision to expel the French ambassador was attributed to the diplomat’s refusal to attend a meeting with the minister—an invitation that went unanswered.

The statement additionally alluded to other actions by the French government that were deemed unfavorable to Niger’s interests, although specifics were not elaborated upon.

As of the time of this report, the French Foreign Affairs Ministry has not issued an official response to this expulsion.

Tensions have been simmering between the coup leaders and the French government since the overthrow of President Mohamed Bazoum. The French government had advocated for the restoration of President Bazoum to his position after his ousting.

A strained relationship was further exacerbated by allegations from Niger, accusing French forces of liberating captured “terrorists” and violating a ban on the country’s airspace—an alleged attempt to destabilize the nation.

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) reacted to the coup by imposing substantial economic sanctions on Niger and considering the possibility of employing military force against the junta that unseated President Bazoum. ECOWAS endorsed the deployment of a “standby force to restore constitutional order” in Niger, while maintaining a commitment to exploring diplomatic resolutions to the crisis.

France, with around 1,500 troops stationed in Niger, has been instrumental in combating jihadist groups that have posed significant threats to the country and the broader Sahel region for an extended period. The expulsion of the French ambassador underscores the escalating complexities in the relationship between Niger’s junta and France, as both sides navigate the aftermath of the recent coup and its implications.

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