Belgium evacuates another 130 people from coup-hit Niger

Belgium evacuates another 130 people from coup-hit Niger

Foreign minister attributes good cooperation between ministries for successful operation

By Ahmet Gencturk

ATHENS (AA) – Belgium evacuated another 130 people from coup-hit Niger, Hajda Lahbib, the country's foreign minister, said on Sunday.

"Over the last few days, about 130 Belgians, EU citizens and entitled persons have been brought back from Niger," Lahbib said in a statement.

"I'd like to thank the Defense and Asylum & Migration departments for their significant role, as well as our embassy staff for their adept handling of the situation," she added.

An A-400M transport aircraft of the Belgian Air Force made several round flights between Niger’s capital Niamey and Gabon’s capital Libreville before eventually landing at the Melsbroek Air Base near Brussels.

In total, 240 Belgian and EU citizens who wished to leave Niger have been evacuated to date.

Niger’s President Mohamed Bazoum was ousted on July 26 in a military intervention led by Gen. Abdourahamane Tchiani, the former commander of the presidential guard.

A delegation from the Economic Community of West African States met Bazoum in Niamey on Saturday, in a new diplomatic push to tackle the crisis.

Last week, the West African bloc had decided to activate its standby force for a possible military intervention to restore constitutional order in Niger.

Tchiani, meanwhile, said a transition of power would not go beyond three years, and warned that any attack on the country would not be easy for those involved.

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