US begins withdrawal of Diplomats from Niger

World | August 3, 2023, Thursday // 09:49|  views

The United States has confirmed that it has ordered the evacuation of some staff and families from its embassy in Niger, less than a day after first reports that Washington was preparing the move.

The embassy continues to operate, but given the "development of events" a week after the coup against President Mohamed Bazum, embassy staff will leave "temporarily". According to State Department spokesman Matthew Miller, this does not change the country's "diplomatic commitment at the highest level," including to "the people of Niger and Niger's democracy."

According to an interlocutor of "Reuters" from the US administration, aircraft hired by the State Department will be used, not military ones. Earlier this week, France and Italy began evacuating citizens from Niger.

Washington chose its words about the coup and called it an "attempted takeover", not ruling out the restoration of democracy through diplomacy. Americans are being advised not to travel to Niger.

The US move will be closely watched after criticism that it pulled all embassy staff out of Khartoum since the start of the Sudan conflict this year without assisting other US citizens.

Niger's junta said it would not bow to pressure and return Bazoum to power despite warnings from the West African regional bloc ECOWAS that force could be used.

Meanwhile, the military's isolation deepens: after leading European countries suspended funding, the World Bank suspended payments to Niger until further notice, except for private sector partnerships.

Financing for Niger is among the largest of the World Bank in Africa - 4.5 billion dollars. The budget support for the bank between 2022 and 2023 is 600 million dollars. Niger's 2022 gross domestic product is below billion.

The bank's private sector arm, IFC, has mobilized nearly million in investment in Niger over the past three years, with million worth of projects under consideration this year.

"The World Bank believes that peace, stability and the rule of law are fundamental to creating a world without poverty on a habitable planet. We are alarmed by efforts to overthrow the democratically elected government in Niger," the institution said in a statement. The International Monetary Fund said earlier this week that it was "monitoring" the situation.

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Tags: Niger, US, embassy, bank


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