Macron says French ambassador will stay in Niger, despite pressure from junta to leave

By Michel Rose

PARIS (Reuters) -France’s ambassador to Niger will stay in the country despite pressure to leave from leaders of a recent coup, President Emmanuel Macron said in a speech to diplomats on Monday.

Macron also reiterated France’s support to Niger’s ousted president Mohamed Bazoum, whose decision not to resign Macron called courageous.

“I think our policy is the right one. It’s based on the courage of President Bazoum, and on the commitments of our ambassador on the ground who is remaining despite all the pressure, despite all the declarations made by the illegitimate authorities,” said Macron.

On Friday, Niger’s junta, which seized power in a coup on July 26, said it had ordered French ambassador Sylvain Itte to leave the country within 48 hours.

Macron also dismissed calls from some in the United States and Europe for Western powers to give up on Bazoum.

“We do not recognise those who have carried out the putsch, we support a president who has not stepped down, and besides whom we remain engaged,” said Macron.

The main West African bloc ECOWAS has been trying to negotiate with the leaders of the Niger coup, and has said it is ready to deploy troops to restore constitutional order if diplomatic efforts fail.

(Reporting by Michel Rose, additional reporting by Blandine Henault, Tassilo Hummel, Sudip Kar-GuptaEditing by Ingrid Melander)