French diplomat released amid rising political tensions in Niger News
Adamaou Fodi Salahadine, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
French diplomat released amid rising political tensions in Niger

France announced Thursday the release of Stéphane Jullien, an advisor to French citizens living in Niger, who was detained by authorities last week. In a statement, the French Foreign Ministry confirmed that Jullien had been freed Wednesday.

Jullien was arrested September 8th by Niger’s security forces. His role involves liaising between French diplomatic services and French citizens living in Niger. France swiftly called for Jullien’s “immediate release” after news of his detention broke. The French Foreign Ministry stated the embassy has been fully mobilized to ensure consular protection.

The move came as tensions have risen among Niger’s military leaders. A coup in late July brought the West African nation under junta control. Military officers detained the democratically elected President Mohamed Bazoum and have refused to relinquish power.

Formerly a close French ally, Bazoum’s government had partnered with Paris on critical security cooperation against militant groups in the volatile Sahel region of Africa. However, relations have sharply declined following the coup. The junta invalidated defense agreements and ordered French troops to withdraw, which France rejected as illegitimate demands.

The recent release follows a series of diplomatic efforts and international condemnations of the coup. Various African leaders, including the Presidents of Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Togo, gathered at an ECOWAS summit on August 10th to discuss the restoration of constitutional and democratic order in Niger. France has reiterated its support for the conclusions adopted during the summit.