May 17, 2024

Official

Moussa Salaou Barmou, the individual involved in the plot to overthrow the government, and who has claimed the title of “chief of defense,” collaborated closely with U.S. Special Forces for an extended period. This collaboration demonstrates his extensive familiarity with democratic principles and the consequences of straying from them, according to a statement by a U.S. undersecretary.

Barmou is one of four coup leaders supporting the new military leader of Niger, General Abdourahmane Tiani. Acting Deputy Secretary of State Victoria Nuland made these remarks during a Q&A session, emphasizing that Barmou, formerly known as Colonel Barmou, maintained a significant working relationship with U.S. Special Forces over many years.

Nuland’s comments came after a pivotal initial meeting between U.S. officials and the members of the military junta in Niger. This meeting aimed to diplomatically restore democratic governance in the country. Nuland revealed that the U.S. was advocating for a negotiated resolution in Niger and thoroughly discussed the potential risks to areas of cooperation that Barmou had historically prioritized.

The U.S. undersecretary expressed optimism that these discussions would have an impact. She mentioned ongoing regional negotiations aimed at securing the release of President Mohamed Bazoum and persuading the coup leaders to step down. Nuland stressed the importance of close monitoring and the involvement of allies and partners to ensure successful negotiations.

Nuland affirmed the U.S. willingness to assist in the return to constitutional order if the responsible parties expressed a desire for it. However, she acknowledged that there hadn’t been any formal response to this offer yet.

Acknowledging the current pause in U.S. assistance, Nuland highlighted the dynamic nature of the governance situation in Niger. The coup orchestrated by the military junta led to the overthrow of President Bazoum’s democratically elected government and the suspension of the nation’s constitution.

The coup has faced criticism from various international entities such as ECOWAS, the EU, the UN, the U.S., and France. Despite these condemnations, the military junta continues to resist efforts to resolve the crisis, including placing the deposed president under house arrest.

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) issued an ultimatum for the coup plotters to reinstate President Bazoum, but it expired on Sunday. Another extraordinary summit is scheduled by ECOWAS to address the political situation in Niger, slated for Thursday in Abuja.

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