Niger military rulers On Friday it ordered the French ambassador to leave the country within the next 48 hours, but said the letter calling for a similar order for the US ambassador was forged.
The Reuters news agency quoted a spokesman for the US State Department as saying that “no such request has been submitted to the US government.”
The spokesman added that Niger’s foreign ministry had informed the US government that it had not published a message widely circulated on the Internet demanding the expulsion of the US ambassador.
Earlier reports said that the coup leaders in Niger also asked the ambassadors of Germany and Nigeria to leave the country within the next 48 hours.
Agence France-Presse reported that the authorities declared these reports “untrue”.
What did the military council say about France?
The military council said the French ambassador had refused an invitation to meet Niger’s foreign minister on Friday.
The junta-led foreign ministry said the French government’s actions “contradict Niger’s interests”.
But France said that “the putschists in Niger do not have the authority” to expel its ambassador in Niamey.
Paris said: “The putschists do not have the authority to submit this request, as the ambassador’s approval comes only from the legitimate elected authorities in Niger,” adding, “We are constantly evaluating the security and operational conditions of our embassy.”
On Thursday, French President Emmanuel Macron called again for the ousted President of Niger, Mohamed Bazoum, to be reinstated.
Niger has been a key ally in the fight against extremism in the Sahel region
Niger gained its independence from France in 1960 and has been a key ally in Western campaigns against insurgents linked to al Qaeda and the Islamic State in the Sahel.
There are fears that the coup might open the door to that Greater Russian influence there.
France and the United States have about 2,500 military personnel in the country who participated in training and carrying out joint operations against the Islamist rebels.
But those security operations, as well as financial aid from states, were suspended after the coup.
The German Foreign Ministry said earlier this month that it supports regional efforts to resolve the crisis in Niger, saying the aim is to restore constitutional order.
Berlin called on the European Union to impose sanctions on the coup leaders.
RM/SRI (Reuters, German news agency, AFP)
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