Washington: The US government is pausing certain foreign assistance programmes benefiting the government of Niger. However, this interim measure does not impact all US foreign assistance programmes in Niger, provision of life-saving humanitarian and food assistance will continue, US State Secretary Antony Blinken said in a press statement on Saturday.
The US government activities in Niger will continue where it is feasible to do so, including diplomatic and security operations, for the protection of US personnel, the press statement said.
"The US government is pausing certain foreign assistance programmes benefiting the government of Niger. This interim measure does not impact all US foreign assistance programs in Niger. Most importantly, the provision of life-saving humanitarian and food assistance will continue," the release said.
The statement said that the US assistance to Niger depends on democratic governance and respect for the constitution.
"As we have made clear since the outset of this situation, the provision of US assistance to the government of Niger depends on democratic governance and respect for constitutional order," Blinken said in the release.
"This is consistent with steps taken by ECOWAS and the African Union. The US government will continue to review our foreign assistance and cooperation as the situation on the ground evolves consistent with our policy objectives and legal restrictions," the statement said.
"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," the press statement added.
Earlier this week, the United States extended support to the leadership of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to defend constitutional order in Niger.
This came as the Niger military held Mohamed Bazoum, the elected president in the third attempt to depose a Sahelian leader in as many years.
The US further called for the immediate release of President Mohamed Bazoum and his family and the restoration of all state functions to the legitimate, democratically-elected government.
The statement added that the US will remain actively engaged with ECOWAS and West African leaders on the next steps to preserve Niger’s hard-earned democracy.
Earlier on Sunday, ECOWAS, sought Bazoum's release and reinstatement within a week on Sunday, according to CNN.
The group declared it would "take all necessary measures to restore constitutional order in the Republic of Niger", including the use of force if the junta remained in power.
A slew of punitive measures, including the closure of the land and air borders with Niger, were also announced by ECOWAS.
The group declared that it will reject any sort of supposed resignation from Bazoum, whom they view as a hostage.
Earlier, it was stated that France and the European Union will support ECOWAS organisations in their decision to impose sanctions on the junta. The two had previously stopped providing money to Niger.
Since gaining independence from France in 1960, military coups have occurred frequently in Niger. However, political instability has declined recently. In 2021, Bazoum was elected president in the nation's first democratic transfer of power.
Before gaining its independence in 1960, Niger spent more than 50 years as a French colony. Strong diplomatic relations existed between the two nations prior to Thursday's coup, but many Nigeriens believe France has continued to treat Niger like an imperial state, depriving it of its natural riches and imposing its leaders' economic policies. One of the poorest nations in the world, Niger receives aid worth hundreds of millions of dollars annually.