French ambassador leaves Niger – Reuters
French Ambassador Sylvain Itte left Niger for Paris on Wednesday morning, almost a month after the African country’s military leadership ordered his expulsion, Reuters has reported. French President Emmanuel Macron confirmed on Sunday that Paris would end its military presence in Niger and would withdraw its envoy.
Nigerien President Mohamed Bazoum, an ally of Paris, was ousted in a military coup in July. Around 1,500 French soldiers are currently based in Niger but are now due to leave by the end of the year.
A small contingent of several dozen French troops will remain in neighboring Chad.
Paris likewise suspended military operations in Mali and Burkina Faso last year and withdrew its troops following coups. The new leadership of both countries similarly requested an end to the French presence.
France also withdrew its last remaining troops from the Central African Republic (CAR) last year, after accusing it of an anti-French campaign. The CAR removed the deanship of the diplomatic corps last November, ending a privilege that had been granted to French ambassadors for more than 60 years.
Commenting on the latest French actions, Marine Le Pen, leader of the National Rally party, told the France Inter radio station: “It was not a solution… [Macron] had no choice actually.”
“It’s sad because the way it goes makes an impression as if we are being kicked out of Africa. But there was no other choice. We are recalling our ambassador and withdrawing our troops on humiliating terms. It’s a serious failure for French diplomacy,” she added.