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Germany suspends cooperation with Niger after coup

July 31, 2023

Germany has said it is putting financial and development aid to Niger on hold following last week's coup. However, officials added that evacuation of German citizens or soldiers is not currently considered necessary.

 Coup supporters holding picture of General Abdourahamane Tchiane and sign in French reading: 'We demand that all Western forces leave Niger'
Niger has seen several rallies in support of the coupImage: AFP/Getty Images

Germany is suspending its bilateral cooperation with Niger until further notice and has warned that it might take further steps in response to a military coup last week that saw democratically elected President Mohamed Bazoum detained by a group of soldiers.

Berlin has "suspended all direct support payments to the central government of Niger until further notice," a Foreign Ministry spokesperson told a press briefing.

"We are also examining our entire bilateral engagement with Niger and will, of course, take further measures depending on the developments in the next few days," the spokesperson added, saying the situation was still in flux and that the coup could still fail.

The suspension of cooperation was confirmed by the Development Ministry.

A spokeswoman for that ministry said that those behind the coup "must restore power to the democratically elected president. "We are in close contact within the federal government and with our partners and are monitoring and evaluating the developments in Niger," she added.

The EU has already cut its aid to Niger.

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No evacuation at present

At present, the government said it had no plans to remove German citizens or soldiers from the West African country.

"Our assessment of the situation is that [an evacuation] is not yet needed," the Foreign Ministry spokesperson said.

There are currently some 100 members of the Germany army, or Bundeswehr, in Niger to assist in training local forces.

The spokesperson said, however, that the government was prepared in case the situation were to worsen in Niger.

Defense Minister Boris Pistorius later said that Berlin was assessing possible actions to take both with regard to its troops in Niger and its military withdrawal from neighboring Mali. 

"We are in talks and preparing for the different scenarios with different options," Pistorius told reporters.

Pistorius said the coup leaders had vowed to adhere to international agreements but that it remained to be seen whether this would be the case.

He made his remarks while visiting a military cybersecurity facility.

France: Bazoum only legitimate authority

At the same time, Niger's former colonial ruler, France, has said it recognizes Bazoum as the sole legitimate authority in Niger.

The statement by the French Foreign Ministry came in response to a question as to whether France had been authorized by the toppled government in Niger to carry out strikes to try and free the president, as has been claimed by the military junta behind the coup.

"Our priority is the security of our citizens and our facilities, which cannot be targeted by violence, according to international law," the ministry added in a statement given to Reuters news agency, which gave neither confirmation nor denial of the junta's claims.

Last Friday, the leaders of the coup declared General Abdourahmane Tchiani to be the new head of state, replacing Bazoum. It is the seventh military takeover in West and Central Africa in less than three years.  

West African nations have imposed sanctions on the country and threatened to intervene by force if Bazoum is not reinstated within a week.

West African bloc issues ultimatum to Niger coup leaders

tj/wmr (Reuters, AFP)

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