The French ambassador to Niger, Sylvain Itté, is being held inside the embassy in Niamey by the military who carried out the coup d’état in the country in mid-July, as denounced this Friday by the French president, Emmanuel Macron. They demanded the departure of the ambassador, but Paris, which does not recognize the coup government, had insisted that he would remain in the country.

“In Niger, as I speak to you, we have the ambassador and diplomatic members who are taken hostage in the French embassy,” Macron said in statements at this event that were reported by the press present. He has also said that “it is forbidden to bring them food, they only eat military-type rations.”

The military took power on July 26 and, then, asked for the departure of the French diplomat and denounced the agreements that existed with the former colonial power. Paris also has some 1,500 soldiers stationed in the country on a mission to fight jihadist terrorism.

A few days ago, the French Ministry of Defense already announced that it maintains contacts with the military to prepare the departure of part of the French troops. It has already had to withdraw its troops from Mali and Burkina Faso, after the respective military coups in both countries.

While anti-French demonstrations grow in the country (especially demanding the departure of troops), France insists that it does not recognize the coup government; It only admits as legitimate the deposed president, Mohamed Mazoum, held by the military. At an event with ambassadors a few weeks ago, Macron also warned that the diplomatic representative in Niamey would remain in the country.

Itté “does not have the possibility of going out, he is persona non grata and they do not allow him to feed himself,” said Macron, who says he speaks with the deposed president daily. Itté’s departure will be made when he “is agreed with Bazoum, who is the legitimate authority.”