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Blinken offers Niger’s ousted leader Bazoum ‘unflagging support’ | Politics News

US Secretary of State says Washington will work to restore constitutional order in West African country following coup.

The United States’ top diplomat has 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”.

Niger’s General Abdourahamane Tchiani on Friday declared himself the head of a transitional government after members of Niger’s presidential guard earlier this week took Bazoum into custody.

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

Tchiani previously led the resistance to a failed coup in March 2021, when troops tried to take over the presidential palace days before the swearing-in of the then-newly elected Bazoum.

The pro-West Bazoum’s election marked the first peaceful transfer of power since Niger gained its independence from France in 1960.

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.

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