France to close its embassy in Niger for an ‘indefinite period,’ according to letter to staff

France to close its embassy in Niger for an ‘indefinite period,’ according to letter to staff

The news that the embassy in Niger’s capital Niamey is to close comes as France prepares to withdraw its last remaining military forces from the Sahel state this month.

“The Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs of the French Republic is regretfully forced to close the embassy for an indefinite period of time,” said a document sent to Nigerien employees of the French embassy dated Dec. 19, 2023, and signed by the French ambassador to Niger, Sylvain Itté.

France will close its diplomatic mission in Niger following this summer’s coup d’etat in the West African nation and a souring of relations between the two countries, according to a letter sent to embassy staff and seen by The Associated Press.

French diplomatic sources acknowledge the authenticity of the letter, which notifies Nigerien employees that they will be dismissed as of April 30, 2024.

The French embassy in Niger was attacked by demonstrators on July 30, 2023, and the military junta ruling the country declared the French ambassador to Niger persona non grata before setting up a blockade around the French embassy.

“The French embassy in Niger is therefore no longer able to function normally or carry out its missions,” said a French diplomatic source who requested anonymity as he is not allowed to speak to the press.

Relations between France and Niger have been in crisis since the coup d’état against the democratically elected president, Mohamed Bazoum, and Paris’ refusal to collaborate with the military junta ruling the country.