A leading member of Niger’s coalition of human rights groups says the group backs Washington’s suspension of grants for good governance.
Abdul Kamardine said the move could potentially increase both local and international pressure on President Mamadou Tandja to step down.
“We are actually supporting that stance from the U.S. government of suspending its support from the Millennium Challenge Account to the education of the young girls. Because we consider that it is a supplementary pressure on (President) Tandja’s government so as to push them to restore real democracy,” he said.
The U.S. Millennium Challenge Corporation said in a statement Wednesday that it was suspending a $23 million aid to Niger. The fund supports graft reduction and girl-child education.
Kamardine said within a few years since the grant’s inception, the girl-child education has seen an improvement from 20% to over 34%.
President Tandja has come under criticism from the international community after changing Niger’s constitution in a referendum to extend his stay in power.
The opposition has described the move as a coup d’état.
Kamardine said supporters of President Tandja rejected negotiations to end the ongoing political impasse.
“His supporters are telling him that he should consider that they (government) are a sovereign country (and can do what they want)… but Tandja, I think he is pushed to the wall. But those falcons are not letting him see reason,” Kamardine.
A delegation of President Tandja’s government is currently in Belgium holding talks with European Union officials over the political crisis.
Meanwhile, the Economic Community of West African States said General former Nigerian President Abdulsalami Abubakar is scheduled to hold discussions with President Tandja’s government this weekend.