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Ex-rebel eader Rhissa Boula moves against coupists in Niger

Rhissa Boula

Former rebel leader and politician in Niger, Rhissa Ag Boula, has launched a movement opposing the junta that took power in a July 26 coup.

Ag Boula, in a statement on Wednesday, said his new Council of Resistance for the Republic (CRR) aimed to reinstate ousted President Mohamed Bazoum, who has been in detention at his residence since the takeover.

“Niger is the victim of a tragedy orchestrated by people charged with protecting it,” the statement said, adding that the CRR would use “any means necessary” to stop the military from denying the people of Niger their free choice.

The challenge from Ag Boula raises the spectre of internal conflict in Niger, a major uranium producer that hosts thousands of U.S. and Western European troops as part of international efforts to contain Islamist insurgents in the Sahel.

The junta has so far rebuffed diplomatic overtures from African, U.S. and U.N. envoys, while its allies, the army rulers of neighbouring Mali and Burkina Faso, have called on the United Nations and African Union to prevent any military intervention.

The CRR supports ECOWAS and any other international actors seeking to end army rule in Niger, according to Ag Boula’s statement, which added that it would make itself available to the bloc for any useful purpose.

A CRR member said several Nigerien political figures had joined the group but could not make their allegiance public for safety reasons.

Ag Boula played a leading role in uprisings by Tuaregs, a nomadic ethnic group present in Niger’s desert north, in the 1990s and 2000s. He was integrated into government under Bazoum and his predecessor Mahamadou Issoufou. (,Gatekeepers News)

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