Niamey: Niger’s military leadership has asked the French ambassador to depart from the country. The move further escalates the international crisis in the West African nation after a coup that deposed the democratically elected president, Al Jazeera reported.

French Ambassador Sylvain Itte was asked to leave Niger within 48 hours in a letter that accused him of ignoring an invitation for a meeting with the foreign ministry.

The letter dated Friday, also cited “actions of the French government contrary to the interests of Niger” as among the reasons for Itte’s expulsion.

France’s foreign ministry on Friday said Niger’s “Putschists have no authority” to ask its ambassador in Niamey to leave.

Niger, a former French colony, was France’s partner before last month’s coup in the fight against armed groups. A growing wave of anti-French sentiment has followed recent coups in the region with some locals accusing the European country of interfering in their affairs, as per Al Jazeera.

French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday criticised Niger’s coup-makers and demanded the release of deposed President Mohamed Bazoum.

The military leader, General Abdrahmane Tchiani, signed two executive orders authorising the “security forces of Burkina Faso and Mali to intervene on Niger territory in the event of aggression”, military official Oumarou Ibrahim Sidi said late Thursday after hosting a delegation from the two countries in the Nigerien capital, Niamey, according to Al Jazeera.

Sidi did not provide further details about the military support from the two countries whose military regimes have said any use of force by the West African bloc ECOWAS against Niger’s military government would be treated as an act of war against their own nations.

The agreement was the latest of several actions taken by Niger’s soldiers to defy sanctions and consolidate a military leadership they say will rule for up to three years, further escalating the crisis after last month’s coup in the country of more than 25 million people.