France to close Niger embassy after row with military junta

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France is closing its embassy in Niger indefinitely as tensions between the two countries escalate.

The embassy says it is “no longer able to function normally or fulfill its missions” due to restrictions imposed by Niger’s military government.

Local embassy staff have also been dismissed, former French ambassador Sylvain Itté said in a letter.

Niger’s relationship with France has soured since the military toppled President Mohamed Bazoum in July.

In September, Mr Itté and several French staff left the country, a month after the military regime ordered the ambassador’s exit and set up a blockade around the embassy premises in the capital, Niamey.

The embassy had been attacked by thousands of pro-junta protestors shortly after the coup but was dispersed by Nigerien forces before they could enter the building.

The announcement of the embassy’s closure comes shortly before the expiry of the military government’s deadline for the exit of French troops on Friday.

They have been stationed in the country to help in the fight against jihadist groups linked to both al-Qaeda and Islamic State.

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