France calls for release of French official in Niger

PARIS (Reuters) -France's foreign ministry on Tuesday called for the immediate release of a French official held by security forces in Niger.

It said that an adviser to French nationals in Niger had been arrested by Niger security forces on September 8.

"From day one, our embassy has worked to guarantee consular protection to our compatriot," it said.

The official is a "conseiller des Français de l’étranger" (adviser to French citizens abroad), who is an elected official who represents French expatriates and works closely with the country's embassies and consulates.

According to the foreign ministry website, there are 442 such advisers worldwide. Their role is to help French expats with issues relating to work, schools, social security and other issues. They are elected for six-year terms.

Niger's ruling junta last month ordered police to expel France's ambassador, in a move marking a further downturn in relations between France and its former colony. Paris has said that the army officers who seized power in Niamey in late July had no authority to expel the French ambassador.

(Reporting by GV De Clercq, editing by Tassilo Hummel, William Maclean)