US warns Niger military

The military’s overthrow of the democratically-elected government in Niger has jeopardized continued US assistance for the West African nation, the White House warned Friday.

“We remind those attempting this power grab by force that an overthrow of democratically-elected President (Mohamed) Bazoum would place the US’s substantial cooperation with the government of Niger at risk, which is predicated, on Niger’s continued commitment to democratic norms and the rule of law,” National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby told reporters.

“Specifically, a military takeover may cause the United States to cease security and other cooperation with the government of Niger, jeopardizing existing security and non-security partnerships,” he added.

Earlier this week, soldiers calling themselves the National Council for the Safeguarding of the Country (CNSP), delivered a statement on Nigerien state television shortly after detaining Bazoum, saying they took the step due to the “deteriorating security situation and bad governance.”

Bazoum was elected in 2021 in Niger’s first democratic transition of power since it gained independence from French colonial rule in 1960.

The US has so far refrained from designating the events as a coup, in part because of restrictions in American law that would trigger a halt to all US foreign assistance.

The US has just over 1,000 troops in Niger, and operates a drone base near Agadez. It has worked closely with Nigerien authorities to carry out counterterrorism operations in the region.

Kirby said the US believes “that there is still space for diplomacy” to resolve the ongoing struggle for power.

“That diplomacy is actively being pursued not just by the United States, but by our allies and partners and our African partners as well,” he said. “We are committed to defending democratic governance and then respect the rule of law and human rights.”

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