The United States and the European Union (EU) are pressuring the military junta that staged a coup in the West African nation of Niger to cut off aid, calling for the release of detained President Mohamed Bazoum and a return to democracy.
Speaking at a news conference in Brisbane, Secretary of State Tony Blinken, who is visiting Australia, warned that the United States could cut off U.S. financial assistance and security cooperation to Niger if the country does not reinstate President Bazoum and restore democracy, according to reports from AP and Bloomberg, among others.
“Our economic and security partnership with Niger, which is worth hundreds of millions of dollars, depends on the continuation of democratic rule and constitutional order, which has been disrupted by the activities of the last few days,” Blinken said, “So that support is at risk, and that’s why they (the military) need to reverse course immediately.”
Blinken said he had spoken to President Bazoum earlier in the day, but did not provide further details.
“Our critical assistance, which is making a significant difference in the lives of the people of Niger, is clearly in jeopardy,” he said, adding that he had “communicated this as clearly as possible to those responsible for destroying Niger’s constitutional order and democracy.”
Blinken did not refer to the Niger military’s actions as a coup.
If the U.S. characterized it as a coup, Niger could lose millions of dollars in military aid and support, AP reported.
Earlier in the day, the EU said it would suspend financial aid and security cooperation to Niger, saying the military junta came to power in a coup and had no legitimacy, and called for the release of President Bazoum and the restoration of constitutional order.
“The EU will not recognize the coup d’état in Niger,” EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josef Borrell said in a statement, adding that “budgetary support is suspended immediately and all cooperation measures in the security field are suspended indefinitely.”
The French Foreign Ministry also called for the immediate reinstatement of Mr. Bazoum and said it was suspending all development and budgetary assistance to Niger.
Niger is one of the world’s poorest countries, receiving nearly $2 billion in official development assistance annually, according to the World Bank (WB). France, which colonized Niger until 1960, provided 97 million euros ($136 million) in aid to Niger as of 2021.
However, it is unclear whether this Western pressure will have any effect on the military forces that staged the coup.
This is because Niger is a strategic point in the Sahel, a region that has been a bulwark against insecurity due to the activities of Islamic extremists and others, making it difficult for the West to back away.
According to the New York Times (NYT), the United States is spending $110 million to train Niger’s military, operating drone bases in the country’s capital, Niamey, and the northern city of Agadez, to combat terrorist groups.
To that end, at least 1,100 U.S. troops are stationed in Niger.
France, whose influence in West Africa has plummeted in recent years, also has 1,500 troops in Niger, its last bastion.
The EU has also found Niger a partner in tackling the problem of illegal migrants from Africa, making it difficult to cut ties.
Russia’s growing presence in Africa is also a variable. Russia has expanded its influence in Africa in recent years through its private mercenary company, the Wagner Group, 카지노사이트킴 by propping up dictatorships that came to power through coups or fraudulent elections while pocketing profits from mineral exploitation.