Niger: old foes may form new opposition alliance

Niger ,Sahara

Published on Tuesday, 31 October 2023 Back to articles

Mohamed Bazoum (L) and Hama Amadou (C) – a new Nigérien political alliance against fomer president Mahamadou Issoufou (R)?

Niger’s escalating political and economic crisis could begin to be alleviated following an important new development. On 29 October the Niger-Inter website reported that a deal was in the making between President Mohamed Bazoum — who was overthrown by a military putsch on 26 July — and his ardent political opponent Hama Amadou. The latter was: 2011-2014 National Assembly president; 1995-1996 and 2000-2007 prime minister; long-time leading opposition politician; and, since 2010, head of the Mouvement démocratique nigérien pour une fédération africain (MODEN/FA-Lumana), (a.k.a. Lumanists). 

The alleged deal is almost unbelievable for those who have followed Niger’s politics closely over the past 30 years. For more than a decade, the former President Mahamadou Issoufou and his ruling Parti Nigerien pour la Democratie et le Socialisme (PNDS-Tarayya) party and Hama Amadou were implacable enemies with the latter being imprisoned and then forced into exile. This enmity was continued when Bazoum was chosen by PNDS-Tarayya as Issoufou’s heir and it reached its highest level in the 2021 presidential election campaign which saw Bazoum’s victory against Mahamane Ousmane who was supported by Hama Amadou. Issoufou and the ruling party had blocked Amadou’s road to the presidency three times — in 2011, 2016 and 2021 — and his only current objective is to settle the score with them. 

Bazoum and Amadou are now emerging as a new political alliance. The narrative behind this extraordinary development is as follows:

Amadou’s hostility towards Issoufou is common knowledge and knows no bounds. Bazoum, previously Issoufou’s long-recognised heir, is now turning his anger against Issoufou. It is the latter who is now being seen as the cause of most of Niger’s problems and was a principal architect of the 26 July 2023 coup d’état. Worse still, he has also subsequently failed to fight for Bazoum’s freedom, but instead worked secretively behind the scenes to weaken support for him and further his own ambitions. On the principle that ‘my enemy’s enemy is my friend’, Bazoum and Amadou are now allies in their joint thirst for revenge against Issoufou.

In fact, this may not be as surprising as it appears. The two men had secretly met in Paris when Amadou was exiled and they apparently discussed Bazoum’s idea of forming a new political party called Hamzari. The idea was kept very secret and especially from Issoufou. 

It now appears that the post-coup situation may be accelerating the initial rapprochement between the two. Their supporters are reportedly currently working on an emergency programme to demolish the image of Issoufou and destroy the PNDS-Tarayya, which has been trying to expand its recruitment base at the expense of Amadou’s MODEN/FA-Lumana. Bazoum wants the destruction of PNDS-Tarraya which has done more than just stab him in the back.

The first meetings in this draft alliance between supporters of Bazoum and Amadou, and the possible construction of Hamzari, are being held at night in gardens on the outskirts of Niamey between their supporters.

Whether these meetings will provide a new future — a resurrection of a democratic and morally strong future for Niger — remains to be seen. In the three months since the coup, the junta has shown itself incapable of governing and has taken the country into a cul-de-sac which has only one exit, and that is to start again. That start might be to: step aside and allow this new alliance, in whatever form it takes, to stand for election; bury the corrupt Issoufou and PNDS-Tarraya led past; and rebuild a new moral, democratic state along the lines that both Bazoum and Amadou seem to share.

This excerpt is taken from Sahara Focus, our monthly intelligence report on the Sahara region. Click here to receive a free sample copy.

The October 2023 issue of Sahara Focus also includes the following:

War in Northern Mali

  • Northern Mali is in a state of war
  • Implications


  • A possible post-coup future for Niger


  • Arrests follow return of exiled opposition leader 
  • Other news


  • Trial of former president Abdel Aziz grinds towards its end
  • Other news

Burkina Faso 

  • Junta survives another alleged coup attempt…
  • Cooperation deal with Iran…
  • Dengue fever kills hundreds 

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