Whereabouts of French ambassador to Niger not clear

Sylvain Itte, right, French Ambassador to Niger, greets French journalist Olivier Dubois, at the airport in Niamey, Niger, March 20, 2023. [AP]

It was not clear Monday if the French ambassador to Niger had left the African country as he was ordered to do by the country’s new leaders.

On Friday, Niger’s foreign ministry said Sylvain Itte had 48 hours to leave.

The ultimatum was given after Itte refused to meet with the leaders of last month’s coup, the military leaders who ousted President Mohamed Bazoum.

The president and his family have been detained by the military in the presidential palace.

Niger is a former French colony. France still has 1,500 soldiers there who have helped Niger to fight jihadi forces.

Thousands of Nigeriens took to the streets of Niamey, the capital, Sunday to show their support for the military officers who deposed Bazoum.

France has not recognized Niger’s new leaders, saying that Bazoum’s government remains the only legitimate authority in Niger.

France has also agreed with the West African bloc ECOWAS and its calls for Bazoum’s reinstatement.

ECOWAS has threatened to use military force to restore Bazoum.

Some information in this report came from Agence France-Presse.