The situation in Niger remains tense as the international community voices its concern over the recent coup that ousted elected President Mohamed Bazoum. In response to the political upheaval, the United States Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, delivered an implicit warning to the coup leaders, indicating that the US economic aid to the West African country could be at risk.
Blinken emphasized that the continuation of economic and security aid agreements with Niamey hinges on the release of detained President Bazoum and the swift restoration of democratic governance.
Western Nations Halt Aid to Niger
The crisis has led to a halt in foreign assistance from several Western nations. France, a key developmental aid provider, suspended all its development aid to Niger. The French Ministry of Foreign Affairs cited this decision after a defense council meeting with President Emmanuel Macron on Saturday.
Additionally, the European Union has also suspended its financial support to Niger. Josep Borrell, the EU’s foreign policy chief, stated that besides the immediate suspension of budgetary support, all security cooperation with Niger has been indefinitely suspended.
Niger’s Vulnerable Economic Status
Niger is one of the world’s poorest countries and receives official development assistance valued at around two billion dollars annually, according to the World Bank.
Furthermore, it serves as a crucial security partner for Western nations such as France and the United States, who use it as a base to counter violent extremist activities in the West and Central African Sahel region.
COWAS Summit: Condemnation and Sanctions
The West’s condemnation of the coup has intensified, and today, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is holding an extraordinary summit in Abuja, Nigeria.
The participating leaders are expected to impose sanctions on the coup leaders in Niger. President Bazoum, the current ECOWAS chair, affirmed that the group will do everything in its power to defend democracy in Niger.
The military council in Niger, in anticipation of the summit, accused ECOWAS of seeking military intervention in the country.