Rhissa Ag Boula, a former rebel leader and politician in Niger, launched a movement called the Council of Resistance for the Republic (CRR) on Wednesday to oppose the junta that took power in the country after the July 26 coup. The new movement aims to restore former President Mohamed Bazoum to power.
CRR marks the first coordinated internal effort to resist the junta’s takeover of Niger. Boula declared that, in addition to their own efforts, CRR will support international actions aimed at restoring Bazoum and his administration to power. This comes as West African heads of states in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) announced that they are considering all options, including the use of force, to restore Bazoum to power. ECOWAS previously on July 30 imposed sanctions on junta leaders and demanded Bazoum be reinstated within a week. Since that time period has now lapsed, the international community is watching for ECOWAS to announce further action.
This past week, reports on Bazoum’s living conditions in detention sparked additional international attention on the junta. Bazoum’s party, the Nigerien Party for Democracy and Socialism, told Reuters that the former president and his family were detained under “cruel” and “inhumane” conditions with “no running water, no electricity and no access to fresh goods or doctors,” in violation of Article 5 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. UN Secretary-General António Guterres expressed his concern on Monday and added his support to ECOWAS’s ongoing efforts.
On July 26, military members of Bazoum’s personal guard overthrew the government in a coup. Since then, Army General Abdourahamane Tiani has declared himself President of Niger’s new military government. The country’s newly installed ruling council, called the National Council for the Safeguarding of the Homeland, formed out of Bazoum’s presidential guard.
The coup has received widespread international condemnation, with world leaders calling for the return of Bazoum. UN Special Representative for West Africa and the Sahel—the region where Niger is located—Leonardo Santos Simão is also remaining in nearby Abuja, Nigeria to continue good offices support to negotiate a return of power to Bazoum’s administration.