US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke Friday with Nigerien President Mohamed Bazoum and reiterated the US’ “unflagging support and emphasized the importance of his continuing leadership in Niamey,” according to the State Department.
“He praised Bazoum’s role in promoting security not only in Niger but the wider West Africa region,” spokesman Matthew Miller said in a statement, “Secretary Blinken underscored that the United States will continue to work to ensure the full restoration of constitutional order and democratic rule in Niger.”
In a separate telephone call with former President Mahamadou Issoufou, Blinken expressed his “grave concern” that democratically-elected Bazoum “remains in detention and that negotiations to ensure constitutional order in Niger were at an impasse,” said Miller.
“The Secretary regretted that those detaining Bazoum were threatening years of successful cooperation and hundreds of millions of dollars of assistance that support the Nigerien people,” said the statement.
Blinken asked Issoufou to “continue efforts to resolve the situation in favor of the civilian-led democratically elected government,” it said.
The top US diplomat held a separate call with his French counterpart, Catherine Colonna, where he expressed his “deep concern over the events unfolding in Niger and the detention of democratically elected President Bazoum,” said Miller.
The two discussed the “urgency of efforts to restore constitutional order in Niger,” and Blinken “underlined the strong role that Niger has had in promoting peace and security in West Africa,” according to the statement.
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 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.