France withdraws from Niger completely
Vita gazette – Niger’s military administration has closed its airspace to France, all operational French military flights and special flights. President Emmanuel Macron has announced the end of the French presence in Niger. “Francafrique no longer exists” he underlined – when there is a coup d’état we don’t intervene”.
A military coup took place in the West African country of Niger on July 26. The administration that came to power after the coup closed all its borders and decided to end all relations with France. With the latest developments, the ambassador crisis between France and Niger following the coup has ended. France decided to withdraw its ambassador and soldiers from Niger.
In the statement shared on the website of the Air Navigation Safety Agency in Africa and Madagascar (ASECNA), it was reported that Niger airspace was closed to the Air France fleet and aircraft leased by France. The statement noted that Niger’s airspace is open to all national and international commercial flights, except for France. Air France, one of the most important airline companies connecting Africa to Europe, had flights to Niamey, the capital of Niger, 4 days a week. Niger airspace was closed to all commercial and civilian flights on August 6, and was reopened on September 4.
Coup and Ambassador crisis
In Niger, President Mohammed Bazum was detained by elements of the Presidential Guard Regiment on July 26, and that evening the military announced that they had seized power. Commander of the Presidential Guard Regiment, General Abdurrahmane Tchiani, became the head of the transitional government called CNSP on July 28.
The military administration gave 48 hours for the French Ambassador to Niamey, Sylvain Itte, to leave the country on August 25, but Ambassador Itte did not. France stated that “the military junta is not an authority that can demand the departure of the French ambassador.” Thereupon, the Niger Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced in a note sent to the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs on August 31 that Ambassador Itte’s immunity had been lifted and that he would be deported. After the note, strict security measures were taken around the French Embassy in Niamey and vehicles entering and leaving the Embassy began to be checked by Niger security forces. Likewise, security was increased around the air base named “Niamey 101” in the capital, where French soldiers are located. In his statement on September 15, French President Emmanuel Macron said that Ambassador Itte was “taken hostage” and that food was not allowed to enter the Embassy.
It was claimed that the military administration, who could not enter the French Embassy in Niamey in accordance with the diplomatic immunity provided by the Vienna Convention, wanted to “catch” Ambassador Itte, whose immunity was canceled, outside the embassy building.
Ambassadors and diplomats return to France
French President Emmanuel Macron, who was the guest of the joint broadcast of TF1 and France 2 channels, stated that he spoke on the phone today with President Muhammed Bazum, who was removed from his post in Niger by military intervention. Macron said that Ambassador Sylvian Itte and many French diplomats would return to France in a few hours and that they had ended their military cooperation with the authorities in Niger. Noting that French soldiers in Niger will return to France in a coordinated manner by the end of the year, Macron stated that they will continue to help the African continent in the fight against terrorism.