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August 10, 2023

Blinken says US backs ECOWAS efforts on Niger

Blinken heads to Brazil after Lula's Israel denunciation

Anthony Blinken

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Thursday voiced support for efforts of the West African bloc ECOWAS on Niger without explicitly backing its call at a summit for military intervention.

“ECOWAS, an organization that brings together West African countries, is playing a key role in making clear the imperative of a return to constitutional order, and we very much support ECOWAS’ leadership and work on this,” he said.

At a summit in Abuja, the West African bloc supported a standby military force for Niger.

The United States has in recent days cautioned that military force should be only a last resort and that diplomacy was the best way to resolve the crisis.

Blinken also renewed alarm about the health of detained elected president Mohamed Bazoum, whom he has spoken to around half a dozen times by telephone since the military takeover of July 26.

“We have deep concern for him, for his family, for his security and well-being,” Blinken said.

“We’ve also made clear to the military leaders that we will hold them responsible for his safety and well-being.”

Niger’s Prime Minister Ouhoumoudou Mahamadou recently said that Bazoum was being held with his wife and son without electricity or water.