EU halts budgetary and security assistance following the coup in Niger

The EU has suspended all security cooperation with Niger following the country's army's coup, following the US's declaration of its "unflagging support" for ousted president Mohamed Bazoum. Gen Abdourahmane Tchiani, the head of the presidential guards unit, declared himself Niger's new leader, citing insecurity, economic woes, and corruption as the reasons for his seize of power. However, concerns have emerged in the West about which countries the new leader will align with. Niger's neighbors, Burkina Faso and Mali, have both shifted towards Russia since their own coups. EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell joined the US and France in refusing to recognize the coup leaders and suspended security cooperation and budgetary aid indefinitely. 

The African Union called on the Niger army to return to base within 15 days. Mohamed Bazoum, Niger's first elected leader since independence in 1960, is currently in good health and is still held captive by his own guards. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned those detaining him that "hundreds of millions of dollars of assistance" was at risk. However, the leader of Russia's Wagner mercenary group has reportedly described the coup as a triumph, describing it as the struggle of the people of Niger with their colonizers. Gen Tchiani, 62, has been in charge of the presidential guard since 2011 and was promoted to the rank of general in 2018 by former President Issoufou. He claimed his junta took over due to problems in Niger, including insecurity, economic woes, and corruption. He addressed Niger's global allies and emphasized the country's international commitments and human rights. Niger's coup is the latest in a wave of military takeovers in the West African region, toppling governments in countries like Mali, Guinea, and Burkina Faso. It also comes as a blow to the leadership of regional body Ecowas, which warned of terrorism and the emerging pattern of coups in West Africa. This is the fifth coup in Niger since its independence from France in 1960, on top of other unsuccessful takeover attempts.


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