Paris, Sep 15 (EFE) .- French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday denounced that Sylvain Itté, his country’s ambassador in Niger, had been taken hostage by coup plotters.
“As we speak, we have an ambassador and diplomatic staff who are literally being held hostage in the French embassy,” Macron told reporters in a conversation during a visit to tSemur-en-Auxois in Eastern, France.
He explained that the diplomat “cannot leave” and that the military prevent food from entering the diplomatic mission, and are feeding them with “military rations”.
Macron’s complaint did not give further details, while the Foreign Ministry has not yet commented.
Niger’s military leaders told the French ambassador to leave the country after their July 26 coup.
However a 48-hour ultimatum issued in August also passed with Itté still in place.
Macron has also rejected to recall the French ambassador, a stance backed by the EU.
Macron assured that France will continue to welcome artists from Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso, despite the hostility of the military regimes that have emerged from recent coups.
He stressed, however, that due to the circumstances in these countries, visas could not be issued for the time being.
“It is not true” – he assured – that events involving artists or intellectuals from Burkina Faso, Mali or Niger will be canceled in France.
“France’s vocation is to welcome artists and intellectuals, precisely so that they can shine in total freedom,” he stressed.
The president’s announcement also comes after the Nigerien military authorities released a French citizen, Stéphane Julien, an advisor to French citizens in Niamey.
Julien had been arrested on Friday of last week and his detention prompted an official French protest. He was released on Wednesday, although this was not known until Thursday.
The coup has been condemned by France and most of Niger’s neighbours. EFE