France’s Refusal to Expel Ambassador Defies Niger Coup Leaders

France’s ambassador to Niger, Sylvain Itte, has defied the coup leaders’ ultimatum to leave the country within 48 hours. French President Emmanuel Macron expressed his support for Ambassador Itte’s decision to stay put, applauding his colleague and other diplomats for their resilience amidst challenging situations in various countries. The junta in Niger overthrew the elected president last month, sparking condemnations from France and neighboring countries, including Ecowas. The French military presence in Niger has also faced criticism, with thousands of Nigeriens rallying near the French military base in Niamey to demand the departure of French troops. In his speech, President Macron defended France’s interventionist approach, asserting that without French intervention, Niger and other countries in the Sahel region would face disintegration and loss of borders. This event raises questions about the presence of Wagner mercenaries in Niger and the potential role of France in West African coups.