The UK announced Thursday that it would reduce the number of staff at its embassy in Niger amidst ongoing social unrest over a military-led coup that occurred last week. The UK joins other countries, such as the US and multiple EU states, in reducing or evacuating its citizens from Niger.
The military coup in Niger has been sparking international concerns since July 26, when Niger President Mohamed Bazoum’s presidential guard detained him in his office and declared they had overthrown the government. The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has strongly condemned the takeover and urged for the immediate release and reinstatement of Bazoum and the democratically-elected government. In the meantime, economic sanctions including asset freezes, transaction bans and travel bans have been applied by the ECOWAS to Niger. However, General Abdourahamane Tiani, the new military leader of Niger, on Wednesday rejected all these sanctions and refused to reinstate Bazoum.
The military takeover has been strongly condemned by the West for being unconstitutional and damaging people’s democratic rights. According to a statement published by the UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO), the UK supports the standing and measures taken by the ECOWAS for returning to democracy in Niger. UK Minister for Africa Andrew Mitchell said on July 28:
The UK condemns in the strongest possible terms attempts to undermine democracy, peace and stability in Niger…The UK stands with the Africa Union and Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to call for an end to this unacceptable infringement on the democratic rights of the people of Niger. We strongly support concerted efforts by ECOWAS to promote democracy in the sub-region.
Currently, the British Embassy in Niamey—Niger’s capital—is temporarily reducing the number of staff, and the FCDO has advised against UK nationals’ travel to Niger. The decision was made ahead of an upcoming protest that is to be held on Friday, Niger’s Independence Day.
So far, EU member states including France, Germany, Italy and Spain have all evacuated citizens from Niger due to the social instability. The US Department of States also ordered on Wednesday the temporary departure of non-emergency US government personnel from its embassy in Niamey. The Committee of Chiefs of Defence Staff of ECOWAS have held a three-day meeting, which is set to conclude on Friday, to further discuss the political situation in Niger. They may yet adopt to take further actions.