Niger junta orders top UN official to leave the country

Niger junta orders top UN official to leave the country
Colonel Ibroh Amadou Bacharou (R) waves from a car during a rally against the French military in Niamey, Niger, 16 September 2023. French President Emmanuel Macron said while addressing reporters on 15 September that the French ambassador to Niger, Sylvain Itte was 'literally being held hostage in the French Embassy' in Niger and living off 'military rations'. EPA-EFE/ISSIFOU DJIBO

NIAMEY, Oct 11 (Reuters) - Niger's junta has demanded that the head of the United Nations diplomatic mission there leave the country within 72 hours, accusing the U.N. of excluding Niger from its General Assembly last month.

The army officers who seized power in a coup in July did not have a representative at the meeting of world leaders in New York.

A U.N. spokesperson in Niamey said she had no immediate comment.

In a statement dated Oct. 10, Niger’s foreign ministry accused the U.N. of using “underhanded manoeuvres” instigated by France to prevent its full participation in the U.N. General Assembly and in subsequent meetings of U.N. agencies that were held in Vienna and in Riyadh.

As a consequence, the government has ordered U.N. resident coordinator Louise Aubin to leave, said the statement.

The junta is following a pattern seen in neighbouring Mali and Burkina Faso, which also grew hostile to the United Nations and former colonial ruler France after their militaries seized power.

Niger has already kicked out French troops and the French ambassador.

Burkina Faso expelled its U.N. resident coordinator last year and Mali ended a U.N. peacekeeping mission that had been there for a decade.

All three countries are struggling with an Islamist insurgency that has spiralled in recent years, prompting power grabs by army officers who promised to improve security.

The coups have been accompanied by accusations that France exerts too much influence in its former colonies, and a shift toward Russia as a strategic partner instead. France has denied exercising undue influence.

(Reporting by Abdel-Kader Mazou and Boureima Balima;Writing by Bate Felix and Nellie Peyton; Editing by Alison Williams and Alex Richardson)


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