As Niger's military coup leadership doesn't appear to be going anywhere, and with President Mohamed Bazoum still under detention despite Western calls for his restoration, the United States has begun pausing some foreign aid programs. This could pave the way for future sanctions on the junta.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Friday remarks sated, "As we have made clear since the outset of this situation, the provision of U.S. assistance to the government of Niger depends on democratic governance and respect for constitutional order."
He made clear, however, that all humanitarian and food assistance will flow unabated into the destabilized country.
"We remain committed to supporting the people of Niger to help them preserve their hard-earned democracy and we reiterate our call for the immediate restoration of Niger’s democratically-elected government," he said.
The day prior, President Biden had called for Bazoum's immediate release and for the return to constitutional order, but noticeably Washington has yet to use to word "coup".
"I call for President Bazoum and his family to be immediately released, and for the preservation of Niger’s hard-earned democracy," Biden said. "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."
He said this simultaneous to the American embassy in the capital Niamey being partially evacuated, though it is still functioning with senior diplomats.
Meanwhile the regional bloc of Western-friendly countries known as ECOWAS is preparing potential military intervention which could trigger a much bigger conflict in West Africa.
West Africa's regional bloc says a military intervention in junta-ruled Niger is a "the last resort" as Nigeria cuts electricity supplies to intensify pressure on the country's coup leadershttps://t.co/b6eeGqCEEW pic.twitter.com/omjRvBB9XA— AFP News Agency (@AFP) August 3, 2023
"As its meeting ended Friday in neighboring Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, the region’s defense chiefs finalized a plan to use force against the Niger junta — needing approval by their political leaders — if Mohamed Bazoum is not reinstated as Niger’s president," The Associated Press detailed of the emergency summit.
"An Economic Community of West African States delegation to Niger, led by Nigeria’s former head of state Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar, had tried unsuccessfully to meet with the coup leader, Gen. Abdourahmane Tchiani," it was reported.
As for Gen. Tchiani, he has warned that any external aggression against Niger "will see an immediate response and without warning." The coup leaders have also called out France, alleging that Bazoum's officials had issued legal permission for French military intervention to restore constitutional government.
Any potential intervention by the West African nations would likely happen along Nigeria's some 1,000-mile border with Niger.