The United States has expressed its support for efforts to restore Niger’s “constitutional order” following a military uprising last month. In a statement released on Thursday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken affirmed the US’s alignment with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in urging Niger’s military government to step down and emphasizing the need for political stability and social cohesion.
Blinken condemned the illegal detention of President Mohamed Bazoum, his family, and members of the government, calling for their immediate release. This statement from the US government came shortly after ECOWAS announced its plan to mobilize military forces to reinstate Bazoum to power. The rebel military commanders who overthrew him last month have since detained him and taken control of Niger’s government.
While the US hopes that ECOWAS will explore peaceful resolutions to the crisis, Blinken’s remarks came just hours after Nigerian President Bola Tinubu stated that no option, including the use of force, was off the table. Tinubu hosted an ECOWAS meeting in Abuja, where he expressed his hope for a peaceful resolution that would restore stability and democracy in Niger.
Several neighboring countries have also voiced their demands for the restoration of Niger’s previous government. Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara labeled Bazoum’s detention as a “terrorist act,” and officials in Nigeria and Senegal echoed similar sentiments.
However, Niger’s new military government has refused to comply with ECOWAS’s demands, vowing to defend the country against any foreign attack. Some African states, including Mali and Burkina Faso, have aligned themselves with the Niger junta and threatened to withdraw from the bloc if an intervention occurs, pledging to support the armed forces and people of Niger through self-defense measures.
The timing and participating countries in ECOWAS’s potential military operation remain unclear. However, Western officials have indicated that the leaders of Niger’s junta have threatened to kill Bazoum if ECOWAS sends troops, potentially escalating the stakes of any military intervention.
The situation in Niger has led to a reduction in foreign aid from the US. While the US government has not specified the extent of the aid reduction, it signals their dissatisfaction with the current state of affairs in Niger.
In conclusion, the United States supports ECOWAS’s efforts to reinstate Niger’s “constitutional order” and urges the military government to step down for the sake of political stability and social cohesion. However, the situation remains complex and uncertain, with the potential for military intervention and the refusal of Niger’s new government to comply with ECOWAS demands.