• Wednesday, May 22, 2024
businessday logo

BusinessDay

Coup: Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger forge ahead with confederation ignoring ECOWAS

Ministers

Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger are pressing forward with plans to establish a confederation, according to a statement from the Malian foreign ministry on Thursday. This move signals a deepening of ties among the three countries who overthrew the seating governments via coups, through an alliance that poses a challenge to broader West African integration efforts.

The decision to withdraw from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), announced by the neighboring countries in January, has been met with strong opposition from the bloc, which has urged reconsideration, citing the potential for increased hardships upon withdrawal.

During a meeting held in the Burkinabe capital Ouagadougou, the foreign ministers of the three nations reaffirmed their joint commitment to swiftly withdraw from ECOWAS and to continue their collaboration under the auspices of the Alliance of Sahel States (AES). They emphasized their determination to advance decisively in implementing the AES and establishing the Tri-State Confederation.

Details regarding the operational mechanisms of the proposed confederation have not yet been disclosed, nor have specifics regarding the extent to which the countries plan to align their political, economic, and security interests. This development comes amid ongoing efforts to combat a decade-long insurgency by Islamist militants, which has caused significant destabilization in the subregion.

Last November, the finance ministers of the three countries indicated their willingness to explore the possibility of establishing a monetary union. Additionally, high-ranking officials from each nation have expressed varying degrees of support for abandoning the CFA franc, the common currency used in West Africa.

The juntas in Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger have recently severed longstanding military ties with their former colonial power, France, thereby diminishing France’s influence in the Sahel region and complicating international efforts to combat militant groups associated with al-Qaeda and the Islamic State.