France ambassador leaves Niger after withdrawal announcement
Baku, September 27, AZERTAC
France's ambassador to Niger, Sylvain Itte, has left the capital Niamey early Wednesday morning, Deutsche Welle reports citing the French presidency.
"The ambassador and six colleagues left Niamey around 4 a.m. (0300 GMT)," a diplomatic source from the French embassy was quoted as saying by the French news agency AFP. Nigerien sources earlier confirmed the departure of the official.
After ordering Itte's expulsion, Niger's junta stripped him of his diplomatic immunity and his visa, prompting comments from French President Macron that Itte and his staff were "literally being held hostage" at the embassy.
Macron said Niger's military was also blocking food deliveries to the building and that Itte was living off "military rations."
Despite the pressure from the junta, Macron had insisted on negotiating any deal to withdraw both the ambassador and France's troops with Niger's ousted President Bazoum.
Niger's coup leaders ended military agreements with the former colonial power France in August, which will withdraw its around 1,500 troops by the end of this year.
Before the military coup in July, Niger was considered one of the West's last reliable partners in West Africa. Burkina Faso and Mali are also currently ruled by military leaders that took power through coups.