• Friday, July 19, 2024
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Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger strengthen military ties, shun ECOWAS

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The military leaders of Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger Republic have signed a treaty to strengthen their mutual defense pact and call for the creation of an independent African security bloc.

This development, announced during a summit in Niamey, underscored the trio’s commitment to greater integration and self-reliance in addressing regional security challenges.

Read also: Sahel nations form new confederation, deepening split with West Africa

The leaders — Niger’s General Abdourahmane Tchiani, Burkina Faso’s Captain Ibrahim Traore, and Mali’s Colonel Assimi Goita — hailed the newly signed confederation treaty as a step towards “greater integration” among their nations.

This treaty builds on the mutual defense pact established last year under the Alliance of Sahel States (AES).

The Niamey summit, which marked the first joint meeting of these leaders since their respective coups, came just months after the countries withdrew from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

Tchiani criticised the 50-year-old ECOWAS, labeling it “a threat to our states.” ECOWAS had suspended the three countries and imposed sanctions following their military takeovers.

Tchiani emphasised the creation of a new bloc, stating, “We are going to create an AES of the peoples, instead of an ECOWAS whose directives and instructions are dictated to it by powers that are foreign to Africa.”

Traore echoed this sentiment, condemning foreign exploitation and asserting that the era of Western dominance was over.

Goita added that the strengthened alliance meant “an attack on one of us will be an attack on all the other members.”

This summit coincided with an ECOWAS meeting in Nigeria, where leaders were expected to discuss efforts to mediate the return of the three countries to the bloc.

Read also: Tinubu’s tenure as ECOWAS Chairman ends today

Omar Touray, President of the ECOWAS Commission, had voiced his disappointment over the ongoing reluctance of Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger to rejoin the regional bloc.

Speaking at the opening ceremony of the 92nd Ordinary Session of the Council of Ministers in Abuja, Touray highlighted that despite ECOWAS’s efforts to engage these nations, there has been no positive response.

Since January 28, 2024, when the military juntas in Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger announced their decision to withdraw from ECOWAS, the regional body has made several attempts to negotiate their return.

These efforts have included offering sanctions relief and extending invitations to participate in technical meetings.

However, Touray noted that these attempts have been met with silence, indicating a continued impasse in the relationship between the three countries and the regional bloc.

Meanwhile, the U.S. is set to complete its withdrawal from a key base in Niger, highlighting the shift in security relations in the region.

While the new military leaders have distanced themselves from Western allies, they have increasingly pursued ties with Russia.

However, the effectiveness of this new approach in addressing the violence plaguing the region remains uncertain.

In 2023, Burkina Faso experienced a significant escalation in violence, with over 8,000 people killed, and Niger and Mali also faced substantial security challenges.

The new alliance signals a transformative period for the region, as the three nations seek to redefine their security and economic strategies independent of traditional Western influence.