EU, African Union escalate pressure on Niger’s coup leaders

Following the military coup in Niger the European Union has said it was suspending its financial support and cooperation on security with the West African nation with immediate effect, as the African Union called on the junta to return to the barracks.

General Abdourahamane Tchiani on Friday declared himself the head of a transitional government after members of Niger’s presidential guard earlier this week took President Mohamed Bazoum into custody.“In addition to the immediate cessation of budget support, all cooperation actions in the domain of security are suspended indefinitely with immediate effect,” EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said in a statement on Saturday.

According to it website, the EU has allocated 503 million euros ($554 million) from its budget to improve governance, education and sustainable growth in Niger over 2021-2024 period.

Moreover, the statement said Bazoum “remains the only legitimate president of Niger”, calling for his immediate release and holding the coup leaders to account for the safety of him and his family.

Borrell said the EU was ready to support future decisions taken by West Africa’s regional bloc, “including the adoption of sanctions”.

Earlier, the United States’ top diplomat also offered his “unflagging support” to Niger’s ousted leader, warning his captors that hundreds of millions of dollars of assistance could be at risk if democratic norms are not restored.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told Niger President Mohamed Bazoum in a phone call that Washington would work to reestablish the constitutional order after the West African leader was toppled in a military coup, the state department said on Friday.

Blinken also “praised Bazoum’s role in promoting security not only in Niger but the wider West Africa region”.

Blinken’s comments come after he told Bazoum earlier in the week that Washington’s support of the landlocked African nation would depend on its “democratic governance and respect for the rule of law and human rights”.

In an address on state television on Friday, the 62-year-old Tchiani said he had taken control of the government to prevent “the gradual and inevitable demise” of the country.

‘Return to barracks’
The African Union demanded the military in Niger “return to their barracks and restore constitutional authority” within 15 days since it grabbed power.

The AU’s Peace and Security Council “demands the military personnel to immediately and unconditionally return to their barracks and restore constitutional authority, within a maximum period of fifteen (15) days”, it said in a communique following a meeting Friday on the Niger coup.

The group said it “condemns in the strongest terms possible” the overthrow of the elected government, and expressed deep concern over the “alarming resurgence” of military coups in Africa.

Niger, which borders seven African countries including Libya, Chad and Nigeria, is seen by the US and former colonial ruler France as an important partner to address security threats in the region.

The country is the largest recipient of US military assistance in West Africa, having received an estimated $500m in assistance to the country since 2012.

The country also hosts more than 2,000 US and French troops.

Related Articles

Back to top button