The U.S. is close to officially declaring the overthrow of Niger's government a coup

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More than two months after elements of the military seized power in Niger, the Biden administration is close to officially designating the overthrow of the country’s elected government a coup, which could weaken the U.S. counterterror effort in Africa, according to three administration officials familiar with the planning.

While the administration is still working through the details of how this would change the U.S. relationship with Niger and affect the presence of U.S. diplomats and troops there, the announcement could come in the next week, the officials said.

An official assessment that the government was overthrown in a military coup would trigger Section 7008 of the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Appropriations Act, a U.S. law that restricts the assistance that the U.S. can provide to a country.

The U.S. military had more than 1,100 troops at three different bases in Niger before the democratically elected president, Mohamed Bazoum, was taken hostage in his residence on July 26 by military officials, led by the head of the Presidential Guard, Gen. Abdourahamane Tchiani.