Blinken reiterates US support for Niger civilian govt in call with ousted leader

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke on Monday with Niger’s President Mohamed Bazoum, who was ousted in a military coup in July, to reiterate Washington’s support for the African country’s democratically elected government, the State Department said in a statement.

Blinken told Bazoum that a civilian-led government “presents the best opportunity to ensure that Niger remains a strong partner in security and development in the region,” the statement said.

Soldiers from the presidential guard detained Bazoum on July 26 and have set up a transitional government, one of a series of recent coups in West Africa’s Sahel region.

“The United States calls for the immediate release of all those unjustly detained following the military takeover,” the State Department said.

(Reporting by Eric Beech; editing by Dan Whitcomb)