By Enyichukwu Enemanna
Newly deployed ambassador of the United States to Niger, Kathleen Fitzgibbons, has arrived the country’s capital, Niamey, but will not formally present her credentials due to the “current political crisis,” the US State Department announced on Saturday.
Fitzgibbons’ arrival in Niger “does not reflect a change in our policy position but responds to the need for senior leadership of our mission at a challenging time,” State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said in a statement.
The US and other western allies have been pressing for a diplomatic resolution of the crisis in the landlocked country following the forceful removal of a democratically elected President, Mohamed Bazoum.
He was removed by mutinous soldiers of the presidential guard unit of the country’s military on July 26 and detained along with family members at the presidential palace in Niamey.
Kathleen Fitzgibbons’ “diplomatic focus will be to advocate for a diplomatic solution that preserves the constitutional order in Niger and for the immediate release of President Bazoum and his family, and all those unlawfully detained,” the statement stated further.
West Africa’s main regional bloc on Friday said it had agreed an undisclosed “D-Day” for a possible military intervention to restore democracy in Niger if diplomatic efforts fail.
Head of the military junta, General Abdourahamane Tchiani has said any attempt to forcefully reinstate Bazoum may lead to his elimination.