Welcome to Africanews

Please select your experience

Watch Live



Niger: Thousands queue to volunteer in armed forces as threat of ECOWAS military intervention looms

Young people gather to register to volunteer to fight for the country as part of a volunteer initiative, in Niamey, Niger, Saturday, Aug. 19, 2023.   -  
Copyright © africanews
Sam Mednick/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved.


Thousands of people lined up outside the main stadium in Niamey on Saturday (Aug. 19) responding to the call for civilian auxiliaries in support of the armed forces.

The event organiser said the  junta was not involved in this initiative, although it was aware of it.

Regional countries have threatened the Nigerien junta of a possible military intervention.

"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!" Mamadou exclaimed.

"I've heard there that they need 5,000 or 10,000 volunteer soldiers. That's why I came here," Abdoulaye who is a footballer said.

Some parents brought their children to sign up, others said they'd been waiting since 3 a.m to answer a call from several organisations

Young people chanted in favour of the junta and against ECOWAS and the country's former colonial ruler France.

The initiative, spearheaded by a group of locals in Niamey, aims to recruit tens of thousands of volunteers from across the country to register for the Volunteers for the Defense of Niger.

The group would fight, assist with medical care, and provide technical and engineering logistics among other functions, in case the junta needs help according to Amsarou Bako, one of the founders, who spoke with The Associated Press Tuesday (Aug. 8).

"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," an activist who was not named told cheerign crowds.

Ecowas envoys landed in Niger Saturday (Aug. 19) to try to pursue further dialogue with the junta.

The delegation includes former Nigerian military head of state Abdulsalami Abubakar according the Nigerien ruling CNSP's communication office.

Abubakar had already visited Niamey as a representative of ECOWAS on August 3rd but he couldn't meet the nation's new strongman Abdourahamane Tchiani nor deposed president Mohamed Bazoum.

ECOWAS' commissioner for political affairs and security insisted Friday (Aug. 18) they were ready to send a standby force should negotiations fail.

View more