After weeks of hostilities between Paris and the post-coup government in the West African nation, which demanded his expulsion, the French ambassador to Niger left the capital Niamey early on Wednesday.
According to a diplomatic source in the French embassy, “the ambassador and six colleagues left Niamey around 4:00 am (0300 GMT).”
A source in the interior ministry of the Niger verified the flight’s departure and stated that it was bound for Chad.
It comes two months after a coup in Niger ousted its pro-Paris president and prompted a souring in relations between France and its former colony.
On Sunday, French President Emmanuel Macron announced in a TV interview that France’s ambassador to Niger Sylvain Itte would leave “in the next hours” but gave no details.
Niger’s military leaders — who overthrew the democratically elected president Mohamed Bazoum on July 26 — welcomed the announcement but said they were waiting for it to be followed up by official actions.
They had told Itte to leave the country after they overthrew Bazoum and took away the envoy’s diplomatic immunity and visa.
But a 48-hour ultimatum for him to go, issued in August, passed with him still in place, as the French government refused to comply or to recognise the military regime as legitimate.
Paris had said that only Bazoum’s deposed government could order the envoy out.
Born in the Malian capital Bamako in 1959, Itte has been in the post as ambassador to Niger for a year.
His diplomatic career spans 35 years and he was previously ambassador to Uruguay and Angola.