New US envoy Kathleen FitzGibbon arrives in Niger – State Department

(This Aug. 19 story has been corrected to fix Kathleen FitzGibbon’s name in the story)

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Kathleen FitzGibbon, the new U.S. Ambassador to Niger, has arrived in the capital, Niamey, but will not formally present her credentials due to the “current political crisis,” the U.S. State Department announced on Saturday.

FitzGibbon’s arrival in Niger “does not reflect a change in our policy position but responds to the need for senior leadership of our mission at a challenging time,” State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said in a statement.

The United States has been pressing for a diplomatic resolution of the crisis that erupted on July 26 when Niger military officers seized power, deposed President Mohamed Bazoum and placed him under house arrest.

FitzGibbon’s “diplomatic focus will be to advocate for a diplomatic solution that preserves the constitutional order in Niger and for the immediate release of President Bazoum and his family, and all those unlawfully detained,” said Miller.

West Africa’s main regional bloc on Friday said it had agreed an undisclosed “D-Day” for a possible military intervention to restore democracy in Niger if diplomatic efforts fail.

FitzGibbon is a career diplomat who was confirmed in the post by the U.S. Senate in July, nearly a year after she was nominated.

(Reporting by Jonathan Landay; editing by Diane Craft)