BRISBANE, Australia — The United States is poised to cut off assistance to Niger if its democratically elected leader is not restored to office, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Saturday, warning that the military ouster of its president, Mohamed Bazoum, could have painful consequences for Nigerien citizens.

The declaration was the clearest sign yet that the United States was readying to pull back contacts with a nation that the Biden administration had held up as a hopeful example of democratic transition. It sent Niger significant amounts of humanitarian aid since Bazoum came to office in 2021, the first peaceful transfer of power in the country since independence from France in 1960. That came to a sudden halt Wednesday when the military took Bazoum into custody and the head of the presidential guard, Gen. Abdourahmane Tchiani, later declared himself the leader of the country.

“Our economic and security partnership with Niger, which is significant, hundreds of millions of dollars, depends on the continuation of the democratic governance and constitutional order that has been disrupted by the actions in the last few days,” Blinken told reporters at a news conference in Australia. “So, that assistance, that support is in clear jeopardy as a result of these actions, which is another reason why they need to be immediately reversed,” Blinken said. “We have communicated that as clearly as we possibly can to those responsible for disrupting the constitutional order and Nigerien democracy.”

The coup and its aftermath became a running challenge to his trip to the South Pacific, forcing him to postpone some events so he could hold urgent talks with Bazoum, French officials, and other leaders in the Sahel region. Blinken has remained in contact with Bazoum throughout his detention, and the two men spoke to each other again Saturday, the State Department said.

Blinken also spoke with former president Mahamadou Issoufou, whom U.S. officials are using as an intermediary with the coup plotters. But the officers who have seized power have unclear demands, apart from simply wanting to control the country, making it difficult to negotiate with them, U.S. officials said. Tchiani said Friday the “harsh reality of insecurity in Niger” had led soldiers to overthrow the president.

He said the democratically elected government had not cooperated enough with neighboring Mali and Burkina Faso to combat the insurgency in the Sahel, adding that the new government would pursue closer ties to those countries, which also are under military rule. But France, which has roughly 1,500 troops deployed in Niger to battle the militants, announced Saturday that it was halting development and budget aid to Niamey.

The French Foreign Ministry called for “an immediate return to constitutional order” in a statement. Niger is a former French colony and has served as the main ally for Paris in the fight against insurgents in the region. The European Union also suspended financial support and all security cooperation with Niger, the bloc’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell, said in a statement Saturday. “This unacceptable attack on the integrity of Niger’s republican institutions will not remain without consequences,” he said.

On Friday, the African Union condemned the coup and gave Niger’s junta 15 days to reinstate the democratically elected government. But the military has shown no sign of backing down. Brig. Gen. Mohamed Toumba told state television that coup leaders met with civil servants on Friday and ordered them to “keep on with things,” so that the government was still running, the Associated Press reported. “Everything that must be done will be done,” Toumba said.

The Washington Post’s Ellen Francis in Munich contributed to this report.

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