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Thursday, November 30, 2023

US labels Niger change-of-power ‘a coup’

Efforts to restore “democracy” in the African nation have failed, Washington says

Washington has officially designated the July takeover by a new military government in Niger a “coup d’état,” a step that limits the US ability to cooperate with the West African country. President Joe Biden’s administration had hesitated to take this step for months due to the policy implications, according to the New York Times. 

America will now be “suspending most US assistance to the government of Niger,” the State Department said on Tuesday. Washington had already paused some $200 million worth of aid to Niger in August. These programs are now to be suspended until further notice, along with the Niger Regional Transportation Compact project, worth $302 million, and other activities. 

According to the NYT, around $442 million in trade and agricultural assistance are to be halted as well.


“Life-saving humanitarian, food, and health assistance to benefit the people of Niger” will continue, the State Department said, noting that Washington intends to work with “regional governments” in West Africa, including those in Niger, to “advance shared interests.” 

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FILE PHOTO. A soldier of the French Special and Intervention Unit of the National Gendarmerie stands next to a NH90 Caiman Helicopter at the Ouallam's military base.
French troops to begin withdrawing from Niger this week

Any suspended US assistance can only be resumed after the military government, also known as the National Council for Safeguarding the Homeland, restores what the US called “democratic governance” in a “credible timeframe.”

The military took power in Niger on July 26, ousting President Mohamed Bazoum. The new government quickly moved to suspend military cooperation agreements with France and expelled the French ambassador. Paris began withdrawing troops from Niger earlier this month.


The US Embassy in Niamey has continued its work, however, and the Pentagon is reportedly still assessing the status of some 1,000 US troops stationed in Niger. According to a report by CNN last week, the US is unlikely to pull out its troops from the West African country altogether, but their operations may be limited to intelligence gathering. 

Washington has several military bases in Niger, including at least two drone bases, to support counterterrorism missions in the Sahel. US troops have worked closely with French forces in the region.

October 11, 2023 at 04:14AM


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