Antony Blinken, US Secretary of State on Thursday expressed support for efforts of ECOWAS on Niger, though without explicitly backing its call at a summit for military intervention.
“ECOWAS, an organization that brings together West African countries, is playing a key role in making clear the imperative of a return to constitutional order, and we very much support ECOWAS’ leadership and work on this,” AFP quoted him as saying.
At a summit in Abuja, the West African bloc supported a standby military force for Niger.
The US had cautioned that military force should be only a last resort and that diplomacy was the best way to resolve the crisis.
Blinken also renewed alarm about the health of detained elected president Mohamed Bazoum, whom he has spoken to around half a dozen times by telephone since the military takeover of July 26.
“We have deep concern for him, for his family, for his security and well-being,” Blinken said.
“We’ve also made clear to the military leaders that we will hold them responsible for his safety and well-being.”
Niger’s deposed Prime Minister Ouhoumoudou Mahamadou recently said that Bazoum was being held with his wife and son without electricity or water.