Residents of Niger’s capital, Niamey, are calling for the mass recruitment of volunteers to assist the army in the face of a growing threat by the West African regional bloc, ECOWAS, which says it will use military force if the junta doesn’t reinstate deposed President Mohamed Bazoum.
ECOWAS has activated a “standby force” to restore order in Niger after the junta ignored a deadline to release and reinstate Bazoum.
“We do not give a damn about ECOWAS. ECOWAS has been tailor-made for the presidents in power. And we do not need it” says Omar Amadou, a Niamey resident. “Whether ECOWAS intervenes or not, Niger is ready for all options. We are ready. Whatever ECOWAS decides, we are ready” Amadou stressed.
Niger is now preparing for a possible invasion by countries in the region, three weeks after mutinous soldiers ousted the nation’s democratically elected president.
The initiative, spearhead 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.
“My children and I love these soldiers, and I invite young people to join the army and develop our country, our villages,” said Niamey resident Amadou Hawa.
Regional tensions are deepening as the standoff between Niger and ECOWAS shows no signs of defusing, despite signals from both sides that they are open to resolving the crisis peacefully.