The US State Department formally determined that Niger’s July military uprising was a coup, a move that will halt counterterrorism cooperation and millions of dollars in aid while reflecting waning hopes that the country’s western-allied president will return to power.
(Bloomberg) — The US State Department formally determined that Niger’s July military uprising was a coup, a move that will halt counterterrorism cooperation and millions of dollars in aid while reflecting waning hopes that the country’s western-allied president will return to power.
The determination means that the US is suspending about $500 million in foreign aid and Millennium Challenge Corporation assistance, State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said in a statement. In addition, the US won’t resume counterterrorism work with Niger and has suspended work to improve Niger’s armed forces, a US official told reporters on condition of anonymity.
“We stand with the Nigerien people in their aspirations for democracy, prosperity and stability,” Miller said. “Any resumption of U.S. assistance will require action by the National Council for Safeguarding the Homeland to usher in democratic governance in a quick and credible time frame.”
Earlier: Macron, in Reversal, Says French Soldiers Will Leave Niger
Tuesday’s declaration amounts to a conclusion by the Biden administration that President Mohamed Bazoum, who was overthrown in July, has little hope of seizing back control from the military junta that overthrew him. Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke to Bazoum on Monday, Miller said, and his fate remains uncertain.
The coup denied the US, France and other allies a crucial partner and staging ground in the fight against Islamic extremists in West Africa’s Sahel region. The US has a drone base there, and last month the Pentagon said the US has about 1,100 military personnel in the country. There are no immediate plans to withdraw them, even as France is preparing to withdraw its 1,500 troops.
Tuesday’s determination won’t affect the flow of humanitarian aid to Niger, Miller said. “The United States also intends to continue to work with regional governments, including in Niger, to advance shared interests in West Africa,” he said.
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