France closes the Nigerien embassy after a dispute with the military junta

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France’s ambassador to Niger, Sylvain Etty, and a number of diplomatic staff left Niger in September

France decided to close its embassy in Niger indefinitely as tensions escalated between the two countries.

The embassy says it is “no longer able to work normally or carry out its duties” due to restrictions imposed by the military government in Niger.

Former French Ambassador Sylvain Etty said in a letter that local embassy staff had also been fired.

This comes at a time when the last French forces left Niger after the country’s military leaders ordered them to leave.

Relations between Niger and France have been tense since the army ousted President Mohamed Bazoum in July.

In September, Etty and a number of French employees left the country, a month after the military regime ordered the departure of the ambassador and imposed a siege around the embassy buildings in the capital, Niamey.

The embassy was attacked by thousands of pro-junta demonstrators shortly after the coup, but Nigerian forces dispersed them before they could enter the building.

Under Bazoum’s command, France had more than 1,500 soldiers stationed in Niger to help fight jihadist groups linked to Al Qaeda and the Islamic State.

Most had already left before Friday’s deadline, and the last 157 people have now withdrawn.

There are fears that the French withdrawal may worsen the security situation in the region, which is now witnessing increasing attacks by Islamist fighters.

In order to try to contain the rebellion, Niger’s military junta signed a new defense alliance with neighboring Burkina Faso and Mali.

Like Niger, both are former French colonies, where the military has seized power in recent years.

There has been a rise in anti-French sentiment, with the former colonial power blamed for failing to stop Islamist attacks and accused of retaining excessive political and economic influence long after independence.

However, the United States maintains two military bases in Niger, where more than 600 American soldiers are stationed.

The United States considers its military presence in Niger to be crucial to confronting the growing influence of the Russian mercenary Wagner Group in the Sahel region of West Africa.

The military junta in Mali works with Wagner’s mercenaries in the war against jihadists. The group has been accused of widespread human rights violations.

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