The United States Vice President Kamala Harris on Thursday condemned any efforts to seize power by force in Niger and expressed deep concern over the attempted takeover in a call with Nigeria President Bola Tinubu, the White House said in a statement.
Niger President Mohamed Bazoum remained held in the presidential palace on Thursday afternoon and it was unclear who had taken charge of the country after soldiers on Wednesday evening declared a military coup.
France, the country’s former colonial power, the West African regional bloc ECOWAS and the United States have called for Bazoum’s immediate release and a return to constitutional order. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov also said that constitutional order should be restored.
“The vice president strongly condemned any efforts to seize power by force in Niger, and emphasized that our substantial cooperation with the government of Niger is contingent on Niger’s continued commitment to democratic standards,” the White House said on Thursday.
The United States says it has spent around $500 million since 2012 to help Niger boost its security.
Harris and the Nigerian president committed to “defending democracy” in West Africa and the Sahel, according to the White House.
Niger’s coup is the seventh in West and Central Africa since 2020 and could have grave consequences for democratic progress and the fight against an insurgency by jihadist militants in the region, where Niger is a key Western ally.
In the call, Harris also expressed support for Tinubu’s steps to reform Nigeria’s economy, including ending a fuel subsidy and unifying foreign currency exchange rates, the White House said.