The Spanish ambassador to Niger, Nuria Reigosa González, and the European Union ambassador to the African country, Salvador Pinto da França, experienced a tense situation on September 5, reflecting the existing tensions between the Nigerian coup plotters and Europe. This happened when they attempted to gain access to the French embassy in Niamey, but were immediately denied entry by the Nigerian military.
According to local sources Both diplomats tried to gain access to the French embassy, where French ambassador Sylvain Itté is being held., as the deadline set by the new military junta for him to leave the country expired on August 27th. The Gaul refuses to go. Both the French Foreign Ministry and Emmanuel Macron himself have argued the necessity in recent weeks Maintain your diplomatic delegation in Niger, firstly by arguing that the coup plotters did not have the legal authority to expel an ambassador and secondly by insisting on their unconditional support for former President Mohamed Bazoum. Sylvain Itté can only leave the French embassy to go to Niamey International Airport and board a plane that will take him to Paris.
Thousands of people are responsible for reminding them of this, who regularly gather around the French embassy or the French military base in Niamey, waving national banners, pictures of Vladimir Putin and posters calling for the French leave the country. During one of these demonstrations last week, a group of civilians even threatened to force their way into the embassy, but the attempt ended inconclusively and the atmosphere relaxed.
The putschists even told the police that it was their job to “bring about his expulsion (from Itte)”. in a letter signed Aug. 29, which also said the ambassador “no longer enjoys the privileges and immunities inherent in his status as a diplomatic member.”. However, the people of Niger have not yet found a way to arrest and deport the ambassador, knowing that if they force their way into a foreign embassy it would be a diplomatic disaster. For now, a police device has been set up around the embassy premises and all vehicles entering and leaving the premises must be thoroughly inspected.
This is where the incident occurred. The Spanish ambassador and her EU counterpart were preparing to enter the French embassy when they were stopped to search the vehicles in which they were traveling. Given the refusal to cooperate with the Nigeria Police Force on this matter, the uniformed officers had no choice but to refuse them entry. and command them to go back the way they came.
The Spanish Foreign Ministry was contacted for comment on the incident and diplomatic sources confirmed that access was prevented. “The European Union condemns and deplores the obstacles to freedom of movement to which the European Ambassador stationed in Niamey fell victim this Tuesday, September 5, on his way to the French Embassy.” The statement further noted that the Ambassador should be able to carry out his work within the framework of the Vienna Convention of 1961. Although the attitude of Nigerians should not be surprising: the EU has already described Itte’s expulsion as “a new provocation that will not help find a diplomatic solution to the current crisis”, while in recent days it has expressed its support for the French reiterated Ambassador. . Comments of this kind only manage to distance the positions between Niger and the European Union (even more), considering that cooperation in the fight against terrorism is a priority.