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US says prepared to resume conditional cooperation with Niger

The United States said Wednesday that it was ready to resume cooperation with Niger on the condition its military regime commits to a rapid transition to civilian rule. Washington suspended aid to the jihadist-hit West African country following the July 26 coup that toppled the country’s elected president, Mohamed Bazoum. The decision to lift the suspension was announced in Niamey during a visit by US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Molly Phee. She said that Niger’s military leadership must “announce a timeline for a swift and credible transition to a civilian-led and democratically elected government”. “We have confirmed that we are prepared to resume our cooperation if the CNSP (military authority) takes the steps I have described,” she said at a news conference. Niger’s rulers want up to three years for a transition back to civilian rule. Washington paused “certain foreign assistance programs benefiting” the government in Niger after the July coup, leaving life-saving humanitarian and food aid in place. International attention has focussed on Niger since the coup, when troops ousted Bazoum, prompting the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to impose tough sanctions and suspend trade. Under military rule, Niger — a key Western partner in the fight against Sahel militants — has demanded that French troops based there leave, while the US still has military personnel in the country.

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