The new American ambassador to Niger, Kathleen Fitzgibbons, has arrived in Niamey, the nation’s capital, but will not formally offer her credentials because of the “current political crisis,” the U.S. State Department said on Saturday.
The arrival of Fitzgibbons 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,” said State Department spokesman Matthew Miller in a statement.
The United States has been pressing for a diplomatic resolution of the crisis that erupted on July 26 when Niger military officers seized power, deposed President Mohamed Bazoum and placed him under house arrest.
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,” said Miller.
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.
Fitzgibbons is a career diplomat who was confirmed in the post by the U.S. Senate in July, nearly a year after she was nominated.