The US Secretary of State Antony Blinken held a telephone conversation Friday with former Nigerien President Mohamed Issoufou as part of efforts to resolve the crisis rocking the West African country.
The US top official expressed “grave concern” for the continued detention of the deposed leader, Mohamed Bazoum and his family who are under “deteriorating conditions.”
“The Secretary shared that he is particularly dismayed by the refusal of those who seized power in Niger to release Bazoum’s family members as a demonstration of goodwill,” State Department spokesman Matthew Miller wrote in a statement.
“The Secretary assured the former president of the United States’ continued dedication to finding a peaceful resolution that ensures Niger can remain a strong partner in security and development in the region,” Miller added.
The telephone conversation with the ex-Nigerien leader took place barely 24 hours after Mr Blinken pledged his support for the efforts of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) bloc to end the impasse in Niger.
“ECOWAS, an organization that brings together West African countries, is playing a lead role in making clear the imperative of the return to constitutional order, and we very much support ECOWAS’s leadership and work on this,” Blinken told reporters during a news conference with his Mexican counterpart, Alicia Barcena Ibarra.
Recall that the bloc has ordered the activation of its standby force to “restore constitutional order” in Niger as its military chiefs meet on Saturday in Accra, Ghana, to deliberate on the coup.