President Biden has demanded the immediate release of Niger’s President Mohamed Bazoum and his family following a military takeover of the democratically elected government last week.
Niger General Abdourahmane Tchiani led a group of military soldiers who arrested Bazoum and subsequently declared Tchiani as Niger’s leader.
Reacting to this, Biden said in a Thursday statement, “I call for President Bazoum and his family to be immediately released, and for the preservation of Niger’s hard-earned democracy. The Nigerien people have the right to choose their leaders. They have expressed their will through free and fair elections — and that must be respected.” Bazoum’s election in 2021 marked Niger’s first peaceful, democratic transition since it attained independence from France.
In response to the situation, the US Department of State ordered a partial, temporary evacuation of the US embassy in Niamey for all nonemergency US government personnel and their eligible family members.
Additionally, the Biden administration has avoided labeling the takeover a “coup,” mindful of the approximately $200 million in humanitarian and economic support currently in the country. A senior adviser for Africa at the US Institute of Peace, Kamissa Camara, noted that refraining from immediately labeling the situation as a coup helps preserve “channels of communication” and U.S. support to Niger.
The military takeover, however, has put the US’s assistance at risk. Secretary of State Antony Blinken commented last week that this aid was “in jeopardy.” He stated, “Our economic and security partnership with Niger — which is significant, hundreds of millions of dollars — depends on the continuation of the democratic governance and constitutional order that has been disrupted by the actions in the last few days.”
This comes as European Nations have suspended assistance to the Nigerien government. They have also advised their citizens to evacuate Niger via available flights.