…why we expelled the four envoys

Niger’s military Junta yesterday expelled four envoys asking them to leave their territory within 48hrs, according to media reports which quoted the West African country’s military government.

Niger’s military rulers on Friday gave the French, German, Nigerian and US ambassadors 48 hours to quit the country, amid escalating tension over the threat of military action from the West African bloc ECOWAS to reverse the coup.

The ultimatum against the French envoy was quickly rejected by Paris, which repeated that it did not recognise the military rulers’ authority.

The move by the officers now running the country was the latest escalation in deteriorating relations between the new regime in Niamey and several Western powers, as well as the West African bloc ECOWAS. Nigeria currently holds the presidency of ECOWAS.

Paris has repeatedly backed calls by ECOWAS for the reinstatement of president Mohamed Bazoum, who was overthrown on July 26.

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In separate letters to their respective governments, Niger’s foreign ministry said the French, German, Nigerian and US envoys should leave the country within 48 hours.

Each letter said it was in response to the refusal of the envoys to respond to an invitation from the ministry for a meeting on Friday and other actions of their respective governments “contrary to the interests of Niger”.

On Friday evening, the French foreign ministry said: “The putschists do not have the authority to make this request, the ambassador’s approval coming solely from the legitimate elected Nigerien authorities.”

Earlier Friday, West Africa’s bloc ECOWAS urged Niger’s coup leaders to reconsider their position and pushed for a return to civilian rule, with the threat of force still “very much on the table”.