French nationals will no longer be allowed to fly into Niger, airline sources said on Thursday, as the rift between Paris and Niamey deepens following last year’s military coup.
“According to the Nigerien authorities, any passenger of French nationality is no longer authorized to enter Nigerien territory,” said an internal Air Burkina notice.
“As a consequence, they will not be accepted aboard our flights” to the capital Niamey, it added.
Royal Air Maroc has also decided to follow the new rule, except for “special authorizations”, said a source close to the Moroccan carrier.
However, other airlines flying to Niamey, including Ethiopian Airlines, Air Tunisie, and Turkish Airlines, have not provided any responses.
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Nigerien authorities have yet to issue an official reaction to this latest development although several French nationals have already been refused entry upon arrival at Niamey airport recently.
Relations between Paris and Niamey have gone from bad to worse since a military coup last July 26 ousted Niger’s elected president Mohamed Bazoum.
France shut its embassy in Niamey in December after ambassador Sylvain Itte was ordered to leave. The last French soldiers of 1,500 once deployed in Niger to fight jihadists withdrew on December 22.
They cited growing insecurity and poor country management as justifications for the coup.
Subsequently, the Nigerien government went on to accuse France of distanilizing the country, which has been plagued by years of armed conflict.
It’s worth noting that on September 24, 2023, the Nigerien authorities banned French airplanes from flying in the country’s airspace. The decision marked a further deterioration in relations and showcased the depth of dissatisfaction between the two nations.
Most recently, in a joint announcement on January 28, 2024, Niger, along with interim leaders from other coup-plagued countries, Mali and Burkina Faso announced its withdrawal from the West African regional organization, ECOWAS.
They accused the organization for its perceived lack of support in the fight against terrorism.
The leaders also condemned what they termed as “illegal, illegitimate, and inhumane” punitive measures adopted by the regional organization against them.