The State Department officially declared Tuesday that the recent takeover of Niger’s government by a group of military leaders was a coup, cutting back on U.S. aid in the country.
A military junta put the country’s president on house arrest and took control of the government in late July, raising tensions in the region.
The U.S. government had previously refused to use the term “coup,” allowing some aid programs in the country to continue. With the designation, the U.S. will end all aid to Niger, including a $300 million economic grant for the country announced last year.
Humanitarian aid to Niger will continue, the State Department said.
“We stand with the Nigerien people in their aspirations for democracy, prosperity, and stability,” State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said in a statement. “Since the coup, we have supported the Economic Community of West African States’ [ECOWAS] efforts to work with Niger to achieve a return to democratic rule.”
“Any resumption of U.S. assistance will require action by the National Council for Safeguarding the Homeland to usher in democratic governance in a quick and credible timeframe,” he added.
The coup faced fierce opposition from the ECOWAS, which threatened a military intervention in the country in August. The new Nigerien regime has received support from Mali and Burkina Faso, which are also controlled by military governments.
Niger has served as a key U.S. ally in the region and hosts about 1,100 U.S. troops, largely deployed for counterterrorism efforts. It is unclear if the troops will be moved out of the country.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken called deposed Niger President Mohamed Bazoum on Friday in preparation for the announcement.
Blinken “reiterated that a democratically elected, civilian-led government presents the best opportunity to ensure that Niger remains a strong partner in security and development in the region,” the State Department said in a brief statement.
“The United States calls for the immediate release of all those unjustly detained following the military takeover,” it added.