US pauses some foreign assistance programmes for Niger government

'We remain committed to supporting the people of Niger to help them preserve their hard-earned democracy,' Secretary of State says

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks with the media in New York. Reuters
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The US is pausing certain foreign assistance programmes that benefit the government of Niger but will continue humanitarian and food assistance, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Friday.

A junta overthrew Niger's democratically elected President Mohamed Bazoum and his government on July 26, the seventh military takeover in less than three years in West and Central Africa.

“As we have made clear since the outset of this situation, the provision of US assistance to the government of Niger depends on democratic governance and respect for constitutional order,” Mr Blinken said in a statement.

West African defence chiefs have drawn up a plan for military action if Niger's coup is not overturned by Sunday.

“We remain committed to supporting the people of Niger to help them preserve their hard-earned democracy and we reiterate our call for the immediate restoration of Niger's democratically elected government,” Mr Blinken said.

Mr Bazoum's removal threatens US strategic priorities in the region.

The African nation is a key partner for Washington's fight against extremist groups that have killed thousands of people and displaced millions more. US military personnel have been training local forces to fight them.

The administration of President Joe Biden has also held up Niger as a democratic success story in a region that has faced a series of coups or attempted power grabs over the past three years.

The US embassy in Niamey in 2021 said the Pentagon and State Department had provided Niger with more than $500 million in equipment and training since 2012.

Updated: August 05, 2023, 12:25 AM