(LibertySons.org) – The African nation of Niger began suffering a military junta’s attempt to overthrow the country’s democracy on July 26 when President Mohamed Bazoum’s elite personal guard detained him and his family in the presidential residence. The guard commander, Gen. Omar Tchiani, sometimes called Abdourahamane, declared himself the country’s new leader.
In response to the resulting civil unrest, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and the State Department have issued a Level 4 Do Not Travel advisory to Niger and ordered the evacuation of non-emergency US Government personnel, including embassy staff family members, from the Niamey-based embassy. It’s the third embassy for which the Biden Administration has issued such orders this year.
US, African Union, and ECOWAS Responses
Hoping to preserve US aid to the poor country, Blinken refrained from calling the junta’s actions a “coup” in interactions with the press or other diplomats. The designation would end US humanitarian and military support to the nation even in the event of a reversal until Congress approved a resumption. However, Blinken worked with Bazoum and former President Mahamadou Issoufou on July 28 to negotiate with the military junta, explaining how Bazoum’s continued detention jeopardizes the economic aid worth hundreds of millions to the nation.
By July 30, several heads of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) had called an emergency meeting to give the military junta a seven-day deadline to release Bazoum and restore him as the Democratically-elected president before they threatened to restore order by force. Countries representing some of the economic heavyweights in ECOWAS in the region included Nigeria, Niger’s southern neighbor, Ghana, and Senegal.
ECOWAS threatened sanctions, including financial, economic, trade, and military actions. Nigeria warned it would cut power to the neighboring nation unless the military complied. Niger purchases about 75% of its power from the country. However, the bordering countries of Mali and Burkina Faso, both of which have also undergone coups, warned they would interpret any armed intervention in Niger as an act of war and they would respond in kind to defend the junta in Niamey.
On August 2, the US State Department issued the Level 4 Travel Advisory and ordered the departure of non-emergency embassy personnel, minimizing the services the consulate could offer to US citizens in Niger. The French embassy coordinated several evacuation flights from Niger and facilitated the departure of many US and European citizens from the capital city of Niamey.
Biden’s State Department Ordered Evacuations from Two Other Embassies This Year
On April 22, the State Department issued a Level 4 Travel advisory for Sudan, warning Americans not to travel there because of heightened threats of terrorism, conflict, civil unrest, kidnapping, crime, and the overall security situation. Additionally, the State Department ordered the departure of all US personnel and their families from the Khartoum embassy because of the ongoing threat of armed conflict.
On July 27, Biden’s State Department issued a Level 4 Travel advisory for Haiti, warning that kidnapping, crime, civil unrest, and poor health infrastructure threatened American travelers or residents. That same day, the State Department ordered non-emergency embassy personnel and diplomatic family members to depart Haiti and warned all Americans to leave as soon as possible by commercial or private means. The reduction in embassy personnel has limited diplomatic services, and staff can no longer respond on-site.
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