Niger’s Military Regime Orders French Ambassador to Leave; ECOWAS Urges Reconciliation

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Niger’s military rulers, who took control of the government in July, issued an ultimatum demanding that the French ambassador leave the country within 48 hours. The move comes amid strained relations between the new regime in Niamey and various Western powers, including the West African bloc ECOWAS, since the coup on July 26.

However, the French government swiftly rejected the military rulers’ order, reaffirming that it does not recognize their authority. The French foreign ministry emphasized that the legitimacy of the ambassador’s presence is solely derived from the elected Nigerien authorities.

This move by the military leadership adds to the ongoing diplomatic turmoil following the coup. The strained relationship between the coup leaders and Western powers like France and ECOWAS reflects their differences over the legitimacy of the regime change.

ECOWAS, earlier on the same day, urged Niger’s coup leaders to reconsider their stance and emphasized the need for a return to civilian rule. The threat of military intervention by ECOWAS still remains on the table.

While the military leaders of the coup had proposed a three-year transition period, ECOWAS is demanding an immediate restoration of constitutional order. Negotiations remain a priority for ECOWAS, even as it prepares a standby mission for a potential “legitimate use of force” to restore democracy if necessary.

The situation in Niger remains fluid, with diplomatic efforts and negotiations ongoing. ECOWAS, which has intervened in similar crises before, is navigating the challenging task of promoting stability and democracy in the region amidst ongoing political uncertainties.

Niger’s coup follows a series of military interventions in the Sahel region since 2020, reflecting the broader instability in the area. ECOWAS leaders are concurrently engaged in talks with military administrations in Mali, Burkina Faso, and Guinea, all of which experienced their own coups and are working toward transitions to democratic governance.

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