The decision to keep the ambassador in Niger, a country where a coup d’État took place on July 26th, 2023, has caused disagreement among politicians in France. Despite the demands of the coup leaders to remove Sylvain Itté from Niger, French authorities have maintained their position. However, some members of the opposition and even within the presidential majority are starting to question this unwavering stance from Paris.
The French authorities remain firm in their position, refusing to recall their ambassador in Niamey, as demanded by the Nigerien coup leaders. Catherine Colonna, the French Foreign Minister, reiterated this stance on September 3, 2023, in an interview with the newspaper Le Monde.
Thus, a standoff continues between the two capitals. The French Embassy is now effectively under blockade, with food no longer able to enter its premises. This situation is causing concern within the French political class, where Paris’s posture is beginning to create bewilderment even within the majority.
“This situation will become untenable”
The decision to keep Sylvain Itté in his post is deemed “dangerous” by Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the leader of the La “France insoumise” (France Unbowed) party. According to him, “escalation is a mistake,” as he posted on the social media platform X (formerly Twitter). This sentiment is shared by Bastien Lachaud, a deputy from La France insoumise, who stated, “We must exercise caution. We should not find ourselves caught in a spiral that leads to an incomprehensible and dangerous reaction.”
Given that the coup leaders have revoked their approval for the French ambassador, it will be impossible for him to carry out his diplomatic work, believes Christian Cambon, President of the Republicans of the Senate Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee: “In terms of principles and legality, I support France’s decision. However, the question of effectiveness arises since he is essentially condemned to inaction on the diplomatic front. I believe this situation will become untenable.”