Niger gives US, French, German envoys 48 hours to leave
TEHRAN, Aug. 26 (MNA) – Niger’s military rulers have ordered the French, German, Nigerian and US ambassadors to leave the country within 48 hours, amid deteriorating relations between Niamey and former colonialists.
The military-appointed foreign ministry said its decision came in response to the refusal of the envoys to respond to its invitation for a meeting and other actions of their respective governments “contrary to the interests of Niger”.
France immediately rejected the ultimatum, stating that it did not recognize the military rulers’ authority.
The non-committal stance from Paris came even as hundreds of protesters held a demonstration in front of the French military base in Niamey and threatened to storm the facility if troops did not leave the West African nation within a week.
People in Niger have, on several occasions, come out in force to display support for the military leaders and voice rejection of the country’s former Western-backed authorities.
Niger’s army generals overthrew the country’s pro-Western president Mohamed Bazoum on July 26. Ever since they have accused France of seeking to intervene militarily in the West African country to reinstate Bazoum.
The military takeover came amid a growing wave of anti-French sentiment, with the people of Niger accusing the European country of interfering in their affairs.
Niger has strategic significance as one of the world’s biggest producers of uranium, where French, American and other foreign troops are deployed under the rubric of fighting militancy in the region.
Earlier this month, thousands of anti-West protesters took to the streets to protest against plans by West African nations to deploy a military force to the country.
The protesters surrounded the French military base in Niger, protesting against years of military intervention by the European country in the West African nation.
The Niger army has accused the African nation’s former colonizer France of being the force behind the West African regional bloc ECOWAS’ determination to restore Bazoum to office to serve the West’s interests.
France was a colonial power in West Africa until 1960. Since independence, the European country has maintained trade relations and a military presence in the region.