Niamey’s main stadium witnessed a remarkable sight on Saturday (Aug. 19) as thousands of individuals responded to the call for civilian auxiliaries to bolster the efforts of the armed forces. The event, organized by local groups in Niamey, drew a substantial crowd, demonstrating a widespread interest in supporting the military.
The organizers were quick to clarify that the junta was not directly involved in orchestrating this initiative, although they acknowledged the junta’s awareness of the endeavor. The junta’s stance was not one of direct endorsement, but it acknowledged the civilian enthusiasm for this cause.
Regional countries have issued a warning to the Nigerien junta, suggesting the possibility of military intervention. In light of this, the call for civilian auxiliaries has taken on additional significance.
Among the attendees, Mamadou expressed his ardent desire to serve his country, stating, “I want to be a soldier for the love of my country. What’s more, Niger is our country. I want to commit myself to Niger. Long live Niger!”
Abdoulaye, a footballer, explained his presence, saying, “I’ve heard there that they need 5,000 or 10,000 volunteer soldiers. That’s why I came here.”
Parents arrived with their children to enlist, with some individuals having waited since the early hours of the morning to respond to the call from various organizations.
Amid the crowd’s cheer, an activist voiced their sentiment, “I’m a military mother, we’re waiting for you, young volunteers. From now until tomorrow, that’s what I had to say, wa-Allah. We’re waiting for you, I hope you’ll get us out of all these difficulties.”
While the junta maintains its presence as a silent observer, a group of locals in Niamey spearheads the initiative. Their goal is to recruit tens of thousands of volunteers nationwide, forming the Volunteers for the Defense of Niger. This group aims to offer support in various capacities, including combat, medical care, technical assistance, and engineering logistics, should the junta require assistance.
In the midst of these developments, ECOWAS envoys arrived in Niger on Saturday (Aug. 19) to engage in further dialogue with the junta. Among the delegates is former Nigerian military head of state, Abdulsalami Abubakar, representing the Nigerien ruling CNSP’s communication office.
While previous attempts to communicate were unsuccessful, ECOWAS remains prepared to deploy a standby force should diplomatic negotiations falter, as asserted by ECOWAS’ commissioner for political affairs and security on Friday (Aug. 18).