United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken called Thursday for a peaceful solution to reverse Niger’s coup and called on the junta that seized power last month to ensure the safety and security of President Bazoum, his family, and detained members of the government.

“The United States joins the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in calling for the restoration of constitutional order in Niger,” Blinken said in a statement released by the US State Department.

Blinken’s statement came after the West African bloc ECOWAS on Thursday ordered the activation of a standby force for possible use against the junta. ECOWAS said it wanted a peaceful restoration of democracy but all options including force were on the table.

He added that the US appreciates the determination of ECOWAS to explore all options for the peaceful resolution of the crisis.”

“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,” he told a news conference alongside his Mexican counterpart.

At a summit in Abuja, the West African bloc supported a standby military force for Niger, whose military on July 26 toppled elected president Mohamed Bazoum.

Blinken said the United States and ECOWAS were united in demanding the safety of Bazoum, to whom he said he has spoken half a dozen times since the takeover.

“Like ECOWAS, the United States will hold the Council for the Safeguard of the Homeland accountable for the safety and security of President Bazoum, his family, and detained members of the government,” he said in the statement, referring to Niger’s military leaders.

Niger’s Prime Minister Ouhoumoudou Mahamadou recently said that Bazoum was being held with his wife and son without electricity or water.

The threat of an invasion, though not specific, raises tensions in and around Niger, a uranium producer that until the coup was an important ally of the West in the fight against Islamist insurgents devastating the Sahel region.

The junta, which seized power on July 26, had defied an Aug. 6 deadline to stand down set by ECOWAS, instead closing Niger’s airspace and vowing to defend the country against any foreign attack.

The bloc pledged to enforce sanctions, travel bans and asset freezes on those preventing the return to power of Bazoum.



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