Niger’s military rulers on Friday gave ambassadors from the United States, France, Germany and Nigeria 48 hours to leave the country.
This comes amid escalating tension over the possibility of West African bloc ECOWAS’ military intervention to reverse the recent coup in Niger.
ECOWAS had been urging for the reinstatement of ousted President Mohamed Bazoum, who was overthrown on July 26. This call has been repeatedly backed by Paris.
In letters to their respective governments, Niger’s foreign ministry has said that the German, Nigerian and US envoys must leave the country within 48 hours.
The letters claim that this order is in response to the envoys’ refusal to cooperate and respond to a meeting invitation from the Niger foreign ministry.
It also cites other actions of their respective governments “contrary to the interests of Niger,” reports AFP.
France has swiftly rejected the ultimatum and has emphasised that it does not recognise the military rulers.
“The putschists do not have the authority to make this request, the ambassador’s approval coming solely from the legitimate elected Nigerien authorities,” it said in a statement.
The coup has prompted a significant response from ECOWAS, which has urged Niger’s military leaders to reconsider their position and warned that the threat of force remains “very much on the table”.
“Even now, it is not too late for the military to reconsider its action and listen to the voice of reason as the regional leaders will not condone a coup d’etat,” said ECOWAS commission president Omar Alieu Touray while addressing reporters in Abuja.
“The real issue is the determination of the community to halt the spiral of coup d’etats in the region,” he added.
As per AFP, the generals behind the July 26 coup have asked for a three-year period to transition back to civilian rule.
However, ECOWAS is pushing for immediate return to constitutional order.
Niger’s military leaders have warned ECOWAS against intervention of any kind. They have instead accused the bloc of preparing an occupying force in league with an unnamed foreign country.