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26 Jan, 2024 09:21

France blocks book by envoy expelled from African state – media

Paris has reportedly refused to permit the publication of a “sensitive” memoir by former ambassador to Niger
France blocks book by envoy expelled from African state – media

France has halted the publication of a book by its former ambassador to Niger Sylvain Itte, claiming that the benefits of its release are outweighed by risks, French media reported on Wednesday.

Itte was expelled from the West African nation by its military government, which took power following a coup last year.

The Paris-based weekly Le Canard Enchaine claimed in an investigative report that the French Foreign Ministry had written to Itte in mid-January, advising him that the memoir contained several pieces of sensitive information about France’s “crisis management system.”

The ministry also reportedly expressed concerns about the envoy documenting exchanges between him, the French government, and Niger’s military authorities in the book, which was scheduled for publication in March.

A spokesman for Les Editions du Rocher, the publisher of Itte’s work, told AFP that “everything was planned and almost ready,” but they are “not quite sure what happened.”

“I imagine some passages were not to the ministry’s liking,” he added.

Ambassador Itte left Niamey at the end of September after being declared persona non grata following the overthrow of President Mohamed Bazoum on July 26. The coup leaders terminated military agreements with France and secured the withdrawal of French troops, accusing them of failing in the fight against Islamist terrorists in the Sahel region.

The French government announced earlier this month that it had closed its embassy in Niger until further notice as relations deteriorated with the new leadership, which Paris refers to as “illegitimate authorities.”

On Wednesday, Les Editions du Rocher said the envoy’s book, titled ‘At the Heart of French Diplomacy in Africa’, is about more than just last year’s standoff between France and its former colony’s military government. The publishing house described it as a “geopolitical book about a country and a region in upheaval,” according to AFP.

The outlet also quoted a diplomatic source as saying that books written by French diplomats must comply with “precise ethical rules” and go through a “completely standard” vetting process.