News of his incarceration had not previously been made public. France announced on Tuesday the arrest on September 8 by Nigerien security forces of Stéphane Jullien, advisor to French people living abroad based in Niger, and requested “his immediate release”.
“Since day one, our emby has been fully mobilized to ensure consular protection for our compatriot,” indicates the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The advisor to French people abroad has a role of representing his expatriate compatriots at embies and consulates.
#Niger | France is following with the greatest attention the situation of Mr. Stéphane Jullien, advisor to French people living abroad based in Niger, arrested on September 8 by the Nigerien security forces. She calls for his immediate release.
— France Diplomatie🇫🇷🇪🇺 (@francediplo) September 12, 2023
The announcement of the arrest of Stéphane Jullien comes in an extremely tense context between Paris and Niamey, since July 26 military coup in Niger. France still considers ousted president Mohamed Bazoum, held captive by the junta, as the legitimate head of state, and has so far refused to respond to the demands of the putschists. Since the coup, France has been regularly targeted in dimportant demonstrations bringing together several thousand people.
The military in power demand the departure of the French ambador to Niamey. Niger withdrew the diplomatic immunity and visa of French Ambador Sylvain Itté and demanded his expulsion. A decision that the Nigerien Prime Minister appointed by the putschists Ali Mahaman Lamine Zeine justifies by the “contemptuous behavior” of the diplomat who refused to respond to an invitation to a meeting with the authorities on August 25.
The putschists also denounce the defense agreements military with France. Paris has so far ruled out a military withdrawal from Niger, where 1,500 soldiers and airmen are deployed on the planned Niamey air base as well as in Ouallam and Ayorou, alongside the Nigeriens, in the so-called “three borders” zone between the Niger, Burkina Faso and Mali, which serves as a sanctuary for the jihadists of the Islamic State group.
“Discussions on the withdrawal of certain military elements have begun,” confirmed French Minister of the Armed Forces Sébastien Lecornu last week, even if “the question of maintaining some of our forces arises.”