US finally labels military takeover in Niger a coup
The declaration comes three months after the country’s president was overthrown.
The United States is officially recognizing the military removal of the Nigerien leader in July as a coup d'état, throwing in the towel after weeks of efforts to persuade the plotters to stand down.
“We're taking this action because over the last two months, we've exhausted all available avenues to preserve constitutional order in Niger,” a senior administration official told reporters ahead of the announcement Tuesday.
Nigerien President Mohamed Bazoum was detained by his presidential guards on July 26 and has remained under house arrest. The coup is one of several to happen on the African continent since 2020, raising concerns about the stability of countries in the region. U.S. officials and regional leaders have said that they hoped the situation could be resolved through diplomacy.
The administration official said the group responsible for the coup, which calls itself the National Council for Safeguarding the Homeland, or CNSP, were “urged” to stand up a civilian government, which U.S. officials believe is required by the Nigerian constitution. The CNSP have shown no efforts to do so, the official said.
“And in fact, they've told us that they've chosen to repeal that constitution, and are now in the process of creating a new draft with an uncertain timeline,” the senior administration official said. “They currently have a national dialogue taking place this month with stakeholders, including civil society, to determine the contours of that new constitution, and also a possible timeline for eventual restoration of civilian rule.”
After the coup, U.S. troops in the country stopped conducting counter-terrorism missions and ceased to work with the Nigerien military. The roughly 1,000 troops who remain have since consolidated at two locations, another senior administration official told reporters. They are still flying drones from those bases to provide intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance as part of protecting troops. They are also monitoring threats from extremist groups in the region, officials said.
The U.S. had already halted some foreign assistance to Niger after the president was overthrown, and the coup declaration restricts even more foreign assistance. It can only be restarted if the CNSP brings back a democratic government, the first senior administration official said.