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New US ambassador to Niger will arrive in country later this week

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The new US ambassador to Niger, Kathleen Fitz Gibbon, will arrive in Niamey following a coup last month, the State Department said on Wednesday, in a signal of Washington’s continued engagement with the situation.

A US official said she is expected to arrive in Niger later this week.

The Senate confirmed Fitz Gibbon, a career foreign service officer, as US ambassador late last month just after the coup, nearly a year after she was nominated.

State Department deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel told reporters that there are no plans for her to present her credentials to coup leaders and that it is not necessary for the work at the embassy.

“She is going there to lead the mission during a critical time and to support the American community and to coordinate on the US government’s efforts,” Patel said.

“Her arrival does not reflect a change in our position and we continue to advocate for a diplomatic solution that respects the constitutional order in Niger.”

Western powers and democratic African governments have called for the coup leaders to reinstate ousted President Mohamed Bazoum, whom coup leaders have been detaining since July 26, but the military leaders have refused and rejected attempts at negotiation.

The coup and its aftermath have sucked in international powers with strategic interests in the region.

The US State Department’s acting No. 2 traveled to Niger and held talks earlier this month with senior officials from the country’s junta which seized power on July 26, but made no progress in meetings she described as “difficult.”

 

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