France’s ambassador in Niger is being held hostage by the military junta, French President Emmanuel Macron said Friday.
“In Niger, as I speak to you, we have an ambassador and diplomatic members who are literally taken hostage at the French embassy,” Macron said during a trip to Burgundy. “They are preventing the delivery of food. He’s eating army rations,” Macron added.
Since soldiers overthrew Niger’s President Mohamed Bazoum in July and seized power, France — which has 1,500 soldiers deployed in the African country — has refused to diplomatically engage with the military junta.
The junta’s representative, Amadou Abdramane, responded by stopping all military cooperation deals with France. On August 25, the junta gave French ambassador Sylvain Itte 48 hours to leave the country, according to French news.
France has advocated for a peaceful solution to the conflict and was at odds with the U.S. over sending an envoy to Niger for negotiations.