Niger Coup Backers Call for Mass Mobilisation of Fighters

Niger Coup Backers Call For Mass Mobilisation Of Fighters

Supporters of the Nigerien junta are calling for the mass mobilisation of citizens against the threat of military action by a West African regional bloc that is calling for the restoration of the country’s deposed president, Mohamed Bazoum.

With a delayed meeting of military chiefs of staff of the Ecowas bloc scheduled to take place later this week, regional tensions over the July coup against Bazoum appeared to be deepening, despite the junta’s efforts to suggest they were open to talks.

Following the expiry of an Ecowas ultimatum after the coup against Bazoum, led by members of his presidential guard, the group activated a “standby force” to restore democracy in Niger but has yet to deploy it.

The latest moves in the crisis in the country – and a wider Sahel region that has been rocked by coups and jihadist insurgency – come amid tightening sanctions against Niger, even as representatives of the coup try to recruit regional backing.

On Tuesday, the junta-appointed Niger prime minister, Ali Mahaman Lamine Zeine, visited neighbouring Chad and met its president, Mahamat Idriss Déby, to seek support.

Calls for mass mobilisation are being pushed by one of several civic society groups in the Nigerien capital, Niamey, which have come out in support of the coup and have been used by the mutinous officers to rally support to their cause, including organising mass demonstrations.

The new group, the Volunteers for the Defence of Niger, is seeking tens of thousands of volunteers from across the country to register to support the country’s armed forces.

“It’s an eventuality. We need to be ready whenever it happens,” Amsarou Bako, one of the group’s founders, told Associated Press.

According to the group, the recruitment drive will launch on Saturday in Niamey as well as in cities where invasion forces might enter, such as near the borders with Nigeria and Benin, two countries that have said they would participate in an intervention.

Anyone 18 and over could register and the list would be given to the junta to call upon people if needed, said Bako.

The junta was not involved in the recruitment drive, but was aware of the initiative, he said.

It was unclear how serious the mobilisation call was or what it was intended to achieve beyond attempting to rally backing for the coup.