Latest developments in Niger: New prime minister and changes in army leadership

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The leaders of the coup in Niger appointed Secretary Zine Ali Mohamed as prime minister, and they also made changes in the army’s leadership, while a US envoy confirmed that the coup leaders are aware of the danger of the alliance with Russia.

The coup leaders in Niger made changes in the position of the army’s inspector general and the president’s chief of staff, and appointed a new head of the presidential guard.

Meanwhile, Victoria Nuland, US Assistant Secretary of State for Political Affairs, said that she met the military leaders in Niger, without making any immediate progress in ending the coup.

Nuland said in a statement to reporters by phone from Niamey, the capital of Niger, that these conversations were very frank and sometimes difficult.

The US official considered that her meeting with the coup leaders in Niger opened the way for the continuation of the talks, and said, “I wanted to explain to the coup leaders the impact of not restoring democracy on the relationship between us”.

The US State Department said in a statement that Nuland’s visit to Niamey came to express grave concern about developments in Niger and Washington’s firm commitment to supporting democracy and constitutional order.

The statement said Nuland met separately with the military leaders who seized power to explain what is at stake if Niger does not respect its constitutional order, including the potential loss of hundreds of millions of dollars in economic and security support.

The statement added that the United States will update aid guidelines for Niger, to ensure consistency with legal restrictions and US policy goals while continuing to communicate with allies and partners, including the ECOWAS group.

Washington will also continue its calls for the immediate release of detained President Mohamed Bazoum, his family and all detainees.

The US State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said that his country had suspended aid worth hundreds of millions of dollars to Niger following the recent coup.

Miller added during a press conference that the return of this aid depends on the leaders of the Military Council stepping down from power and restoring the constitutional order of the country.

This comes as the ruling military council in Niger took security measures throughout the country coinciding with its decision to close the airspace, while its supporters continue their demonstrations in support of its decisions, in return for the demands of the ruling party and its supporters for the return of President Mohamed Bazoum to power.

For its part, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) announced that it will hold a new extraordinary summit next Thursday to discuss the next steps in dealing with the coup in Niger.

An ECOWAS spokesman said that the second summit of its kind in less than two weeks will be held in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, under the chairmanship of Nigerian President Paula Tinubu, whose country currently heads the regional organization.

At the previous summit, which was held on July 30, also in Abuja, the African Group – which includes 15 countries – gave the putschists a week to restore the ousted President Mohamed Bazoum to his position, and imposed sanctions on the new regime in Niamey.

However, the deadline expired last Sunday evening without any indications of an imminent military intervention by ECOWAS to put an end to the coup in Niger, which is the seventh in the region in 3 years.

French Press Agency quoted a source close to the organization as saying that military intervention won’t take place now, noting that despite the putschists’ rejection of ECOWAS’ demands, it seems that dialogue is still on the table, and the United States may participate in it.

The Wall Street Journal quoted a senior official from one of the ECOWAS countries as saying that the armies of the region need more time to prepare and strengthen the strength of military units before entering Niger, stressing that this military action depends on good preparation.

In contrast, as the ECOWAS deadline expired Sunday night, the coup leaders in Niger defied the group’s threat, and seemed determined not to back down.

The military spokesman for the so-called National Council for the Protection of the Homeland in Niger, Amadou Abdel Rahman, announced the closure of the country’s airspace until further notice, referring to the threat of military intervention by the African Group.

Abdel Rahman warned of the consequences of what he described as any military adventure or interference from ECOWAS in the affairs of his country, and said that a super foreign country was preparing to attack Niger, and it wasn’t clear whether the military spokesman was referring to France, which has about 1,500 soldiers stationed at a base in Niamey.

The National Council for the Protection of the Homeland – which led by General Omar AbdulRahman Tiani – said that preparations for war had already begun in two countries in the center of the continent.

On Sunday, a number of council members participated in a mass gathering at a sports stadium in Niamey, and confirmed that they wouldn’t back down from their decisions, and would work to achieve the people’s demands.

A member of the ruling junta also announced on national television that Niger’s armed forces are ready to defend the country’s territorial integrity.

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