French ambassador to Niger leaves as relations nosedive after coup
France's ambassador to Niger left the country early on Wednesday morning, around one month after the military government ordered his expulsion and days after President Emmanuel Macron said the diplomat would be pulled out and French troops withdrawn, News.Az reports citing Reuters.
Relations between Niger and France, its former colonial ruler which maintained a military presence in the country to help fight Islamist insurgents, have broken down since army officers seized power in Niamey in July.
The junta had ordered French ambassador Sylvain Itte to leave the country within 48 hours at the end of August in response to what they described as actions by France that were "contrary to the interests of Niger".
France at first ignored the order, sticking to its stance that the military government was illegitimate and calling for the reinstatement of elected President Mohamed Bazoum, who was toppled in the July coup.
But Macron announced on Sunday that the ambassador would return to Paris and French troops would leave.
Two security sources in Niger said Itte had flown out of the country. The news was later confirmed by the president's office in Paris.
There have been almost daily protests against France in Niamey since the military took power. Crowds of junta supporters have spent days camping outside a French military base to demand the troops' departure.