The US ordered the departure of all non-emergency government personnel from its embassy in Niger on Wednesday as the country deals with the aftermath of last month’s coup.
“Given ongoing developments in Niger and out of an abundance of caution, the Department of State is ordering the temporary departure of non-emergency U.S. government personnel and eligible family members from the U.S. Embassy in Niamey,” State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said in a statement, citing the safety and security of US citizens overseas as of paramount importance.
The US also updated its travel advisory to reflect that commercial flight options are now limited and informed US citizens in Niger that it can only provide them with emergency assistance.
The US embassy remains open for limited emergency services to US citizens, Miller said.
“The United States remains committed to our relationship with the people of Niger and to Nigerien democracy. We remain diplomatically engaged at the highest levels,” he added.
The statement noted that the US Senate recently confirmed a new ambassador for Niger, Kathleen FitzGibbon, a diplomat with extensive experience in West Africa. It said FitzGibbon “is well positioned to manage our bilateral relationship through this difficult period and we look forward to her swift arrival in Niamey.”
“The United States rejects all efforts to overturn Niger’s constitutional order and stands with the people of Niger, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the African Union, and other international partners in support of democratic governance and respect for the rule of law and human rights,” Miller said.
– Military coup in Niger
Niger’s President Mohamed Bazoum was detained by members of the Presidential Guard on July 26, and that evening, the military announced that it had seized power.
Gen. Abdourahmane Tchiani, the leader of the mutinous soldiers, assumed the leadership of the group called the National Council for the Safeguarding of the Country on July 28.
ECOWAS, of which Nigeria is a member, decided to impose sanctions on Niger following the coup.
The US has so far refrained from terming the events in Niger a “coup,” in part because of automatic cuts in assistance that would be triggered under the law.