Fri, 29 Sep 2023

A French citizen detained in Niger in the wake of a coup has been freed, the French Foreign Ministry announced on Thursday.

"France welcomes the liberation of Stephane Jullien," said a spokeswoman for the ministry.

Jullien, a businessman long based in Niger, had a role representing the interests of French expatriates at the French embassy.

He was arrested on 8 September amid deteriorating ties that followed a coup in the former French colony in West Africa.

France called for his "immediate release" on Tuesday, without giving details of the circumstances surrounding his detention.


Relations between Niger and France went swiftly downhill after the 26 July putsch, which ousted French ally president Mohamed Bazoum.

Paris, which has about 1,500 troops deployed in Niger as part of France's wider fight against jihadists in the Sahel, has stood by Bazoum and declared the post-coup authorities illegitimate.

Uncertainty for French soldiers in Niger, confined to barracks after coup

There has been speculation that France will be forced into a full military pullout from Niger, with a French defence ministry source saying last week that the French army was holding talks with Niger's military over withdrawing "elements" of its presence.

Rallies to protest the French military presence have attracted tens of thousands of people to the airbase which hosts part of the former colonial power's contingent near Niamey's airport in the past 10 days.

Niger's military rulers have accused its former colonial power of assembling troops, war materials and equipment in several neighbouring West African countries with a view to "military intervention" in the Sahel state - a charge France denies.


Originally published on RFI

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