Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso plan to form new confederation after ECOWAS exit

Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso plan to form new confederation after ECOWAS exit

The junta-led Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger have disclosed a plan to establish a confederation that will deepen their ties following their exit from the regional bloc.

According to the statement issued by the Malian foreign ministry on Thursday, the three countries would form the Alliance of Sahel States (AES).

The three neigbouring countries in the Sahel region announced in January they would quit the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), despite a decision by the bloc urging them to rethink.

According to Reuters, the three ministers from the countries at a meeting in the Burkinabe capital Ouagadougou, confirmed a joint commitment to withdraw from ECOWAS without delay.

They “reaffirmed their commitment to advancing resolutely in the process of implementing the AES and creating the Tri-State Confederation,” the Malian foreign ministry said in an online post.

The group has not revealed details on how the proposed confederation would operate or on how closely they plan to align political, economic, and security interests.

One of the mishaps in the three countries is their struggle to contain an epidemic battle with Islamist insurgents that has destabilised the subregion.

In November 2023, their finance ministers said they would weigh the option of establishing a monetary union and top officials from all three countries have, to varying degrees, voiced support for abandoning West Africa’s CFA franc common currency.

The juntas have all severed long-standing military ties with former colonial ruler France, dealing a blow to France’s influence in the Sahel and complicating international efforts to fight the militants linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State.

Nigerian leader and ECOWAS Chairman, President Bola Tinubu has had to face challenges of restoring democratic governments in the three countries, as his efforts were met with opposition.

He sent a delegation at different times including former military leader, Abdulsalam Abubakar, and Benin Republic President Patrice Talon, to Niger which experienced the recent military takeover.

On 26 July 2023, a coup d’état occurred in Niger when the country’s presidential guard detained President Mohamed Bazoum, and Presidential Guard commander General Abdourahamane Tchiani proclaimed himself the leader of a new military junta, shortly after confirming the coup a success.

Before Niger’s coup d’état took place, Burkina Faso, on 30 September 2022, had its military takeover when the Interim President Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba was removed over his alleged inability to contain the country’s Islamist insurgency.

Damiba had come to power in a coup d’état eight months earlier before Captain Ibrahim Traoré took over as interim leader.

In 2021, the Malian coup d’état began on the night of 24 May when the Malian Army led by Vice President Assimi Goïta captured President Bah N’daw, Prime Minister Moctar Ouane and Minister of Defence Souleymane Doucouré. Goita has remained in power since then.

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