Macron: French ambassador, other diplomats are ‘being held hostage’ at embassy in Niger

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French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday said the top diplomat and others are “literally being held hostage at the French embassy” by the country’s new military leaders.

During an exchange with reporters in the eastern town of Semur-en-Auxois, Macron relayed the grave situation that is currently unfolding for French Ambassador Sylvain Itté, and the other diplomats.

“In Niger, as I speak to you we have an ambassador and diplomatic members who are literally being held hostage at the French embassy,” Macron said. “They are preventing food deliveries and he is eating military rations.”

The Conseil national pour la sauvegarde de la patrie (CNSP) — the military junta that orchestrated the takeover on July 26 and ousted President Mohamed Bazoum from power after two years in office — demanded that the ambassador be expelled from Niger on Aug. 25. The group gave France 48 hours to remove him.

France, who has condemned the coup, refused to comply and maintained that the junta did not have the authority to make such a request.

Since the takeover, tens of thousands of protesters have taken to the streets of Niger, insisting that Macron’s forces leave the former French colony. Anti-French sentiments have intensified in recent weeks with demonstrators chanting the slogan “Le France, dégage” which translates to “France, get out.”

Despite these strong calls, the French leader has continued to dismiss the legitimacy of the ruling army, a move which has received support from the European Union (EU).

“The decision of the putschists to expel the French ambassador is a new provocation which cannot in any way help to find a diplomatic solution to the current crisis,” EU spokeswoman Nabila Massrali said, according to reports from Le Monde.

The EU has also affirmed that it “does not recognize and will not recognize the authorities resulting from the putsch in Niger.”

As for how Macron will now respond to the tense situation in Niger, including the possible redeployment of 1,500 French soldiers that are currently stationed in the African country, he stressed that all decisions will be made with the country’s democratically elected president.

“I will do whatever we agree with President Bazoum because he is the legitimate authority and I speak with him every day,” Macron said.

For the latest news, weather, sports, and streaming video, head to The Hill.

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