Some Niger artists voice support for new military rulers

NIAMEY (Reuters) - Paintings of Niger's coup leader, national flags and symbols of unity have appeared in the capital since a military takeover last month that has seen some artists join a movement supporting the new junta.

Niger military officers who deposed President Mohamed Bazoum on July 26 have defied calls from the United Nations, regional and Western powers to reinstate him and gathered thousands of people at rallies condemning the West and praising Russia.

Members of a small painting collective worked under the shade of trees in a quiet corner of Niamey to make a portrait of coup leader Abdouharamane Tiani on an outline of Niger, adding a protester here, an inspirational quote there.

Artist Ali Garba said he and his colleagues wanted to play their part in unifying the nation.

"All citizens must make their contribution," he said. "Without social cohesion, there is no nation."

West African armies have threatened military action against the new regime if it does not restore civilian rule, a prospect portrayed as missiles dropping on a dark desert scene by Boubacar Djiboby, who also painted tied hands breaking free.

There has been little public sign of resistance to the coup, although a former rebel leader and politician announced a movement to restore constitutional order last week.

(Writing by Cooper Inveen; editing by Edward McAllister and Philippa Fletcher)