The European Union has protested strongly after its ambassador to Niger, Salvador Pinto da França, was prevented from accessing the French embassy in the capital, Niamey.
“The European Union denounces and regrets the obstacles to freedom of movement of which the European ambassador, stationed in Niamey, was the victim this Tuesday 5 September, while he was going to the French embassy,” said EU spokesperson Nabila Massrali.
“Under the Vienna Convention of 1961, the ambassador of the European Union has been duly accredited and he must, therefore, be able to carry out his mission in the full respect of the said convention,” she added.
The French embassy has been blockaded after the military junta ordered the arrest and expulsion of French Ambassador Sylvain Itté, but he is refusing to leave.
The junta issued the order on 26 August in retaliation for Paris refusing to recognise coup leader Gen Abdourahmane Tchiani and insisting on only recognising ousted President Mohamed Bazoum as Niger’s legitimate president.
The EU has termed the expulsion order a “new provocation which can in no way help to find a diplomatic solution to the current crisis”.