France's ambassador in Niger is being held hostage at the French embassy by the military junta which has seized power in the West African nation, French President Emmanuel Macron said on Friday.
"As we speak, we have an ambassador and diplomatic members which are being literally held hostage at the French embassy, and food is prevented from being delivered. They're eating military rations," Macron told reporters during a visit to Burgundy, reports Reuters.
CNN report says after seizing control of the West African country in July, the military junta ordered Itte to leave the country. It later revoked his visa and instructed police to expel him.
But the diplomat remained in place, according to the French presidency, with French authorities reiterating that they do not recognize the authority of the junta.
Asked if he would work on bringing the ambassador back home, Macron emphasized the authority of ousted Niger president Mohamed Bazoum: “I will do whatever we agree on with President Bazoum because he is the legitimate authority and I speak with him every day.”
Itte is still working, according to French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna.
“The ambassador is working, I can confirm that, and he is very useful through his contacts, his team, there is still a small team with him,” said Colonna in an interview with French TV channel LCI.
Colonna added that Itte “will stay as long as we want him to stay,” and that his return is Macron’s decision.