By: Seringe ST Touray
A large number of Nigeriens formed long queues outside Niamey’s main stadium on Saturday, responding to a call for civilian volunteers to support the junta armed forces. According to AfricaNews.com, the organizer of the event clarified that the junta was not directly involved in this initiative, although they were aware of its occurrence. Meanwhile, neighboring countries, including Nigeria, Ghana, and Senegal, have issued warnings to the junta regarding a potential military intervention.
Amidst the gathering, some parents brought their children along to enlist as volunteers. Young participants fervently voiced their support for the junta while expressing dissent against both ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) and France, the nation’s former colonial ruler.
This grassroots effort, led by a group of local residents in Niamey, has the ambitious goal of recruiting tens of thousands of volunteers from across the nation to defend Niger. This group is poised to undertake a range of roles, including combat duties, providing medical assistance, and handling technical and engineering logistics. These services would be extended to the junta should they require assistance, as outlined by Amsarou Bako, a co-founder of the initiative who spoke to The Associated Press on Tuesday, August 8, 2023.
On August 19, ECOWAS envoys arrived in Niger with the intent of engaging in further discussions with the junta. The delegation includes former Nigerian military head of state Abdulsalami Abubakar, as stated by the Nigerien ruling CNSP’s communication office. Abubakar had previously visited Niamey on August 3 as a representative of ECOWAS; however, he was unable to meet with either the newly empowered figurehead Abdourahamane Tchiani or the deposed president Mohamed Bazoum.
On the cusp of potential negotiations, the commissioner for political affairs and security within ECOWAS emphasized on August 18 that a standby force was prepared for deployment should diplomatic talks fail.