Niger: Biden calls for ousted President Bazoum's release
US President Biden has called for the immediate release of Niger's ousted President Mohamed Bazoum
US President Joe Biden called for the immediate release of Niger's President Mohamed Bazoum on Thursday, coinciding with the country's 63rd independence day anniversary.
"I call for President Bazoum and his family to be immediately released, and for the preservation of Niger's hard-earned democracy," Biden said in a statement.
His comments came shortly after the US ordered the evacuation of some staff and families from its embassy in Niger following a military coup.
The US State Department said that the mission will remain open and senior leadership will continue working from there.
What did President Biden say?
"In this critical moment, the United States stands with the people of Niger to honor our decades-long partnership rooted in shared democratic values and support for civilian-led governance," Biden said.
"The Nigerien people have the right to choose their leaders," the US president said. "They have expressed their will through free and fair elections — and that must be respected."
Bazoum's election in 2021 marked the country's first peaceful transition of power following four previous coups that rocked the country since its independence in 1960 from French colonial power.
Also Read: What are the Niger coup leaders' intentions?
What did the State Department say?
"Given ongoing developments in Niger and out of an abundance of caution, the Department of State is ordering the temporary departure of non-emergency US government personnel and eligible family members from the US Embassy in Niamey," State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said in a statement.
"The United States remains committed to our relationship with the people of Niger and to Nigerien democracy. We remain diplomatically engaged at the highest levels," he said.
Miller said that the embassy remains open for limited emergency services, but the State Department is advising US citizens not to travel to Niger.
Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told Bazoum in a phone call that Washington maintains committed to the restoration of the country's elected government, according to a State Department statement.
Washington has so far not announced any withdrawal of troops from the West African country. There are around 1,100 US troops in Niger.
The US embassy announcement came after defense ministers from the member states of the West African ECOWAS regional bloc met to discuss the crisis, while a delegation from the bloc was in Niamey to negotiate with the junta.
France asks Niger junta to 'fully guarantee' embassy safety
France on Thursday asked Niger's new military leaders to "fully guarantee" the safety of its embassy in Niamey ahead of planned demonstrations in the capital.
It asked the security forces in Niger to take the necessary measures to ensure that "the security of foreign diplomatic rights of way and diplomatic personnel" are guaranteed.
France's Foreign Ministry added that these were "obligations under international law, especially under the Vienna Convention."
Meanwhile, the British Embassy in Niamey is temporarily reducing the number of its staff following the security situation in Niger, the UK government has said in a travel advisory on Thursday.