Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger Republic snub ECOWAS, form Alliance of Sahel States

Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger have finalised plans to form a new confederation, the Confederation of the Alliance of Sahel States, marking a geopolitical shift in the region.

This move showed their departure from their former colonial ruler, France, and a turn towards closer relations with Russia.

The announcement was made following a meeting of the three nations’ foreign ministers in Niger’s capital, Niamey, on Friday, as reported by AFP.

Niger’s Foreign Minister, Bakary Sangare, confirmed the finalisation of the draft text that outlines the institutionalisation and operationalisation of the AES.

“The objective was to finalise the draft text relating to the institutionalisation and operationalisation of the Confederation of the Alliance of Sahel States,” Sangare said.

“We can consider very clearly, today, that the Confederation of the Alliance of Sahel States has been born,” declared Mali’s Foreign Minister Abdoulaye Diop.

The Heads of State of the three countries will formally adopt the text at an upcoming summit, although the exact date has not been specified.

Burkina Faso’s Foreign Minister Karamoko Jean-Marie Traore also participated in the crucial talks.

Widely seen as West Africa’s top political and regional authority, the 15-nation bloc of ECOWAS – formed in 1975 to promote economic integration in member states – has struggled in recent years to reverse a wave of military takeovers in the region, including Mali in 2020 and 2021, Burkina Faso in 2022, and Niger last year.

Unfortunately, the three countries, which mulled a counterforce, the Alliance of Sahel States, against the regional bloc after the overthrow of the democratically elected government in Niger, announced their exit from ECOWAS on Sunday, January 28, 2024.

The three countries, which are currently under military rule, said in a joint statement that they ceased to be members of ECOWAS as the regional body had allegedly “moved away from the ideals of its founding fathers and pan-Africanism.”

The sanctions were, however, lifted in February 2024 following the intervention of Nigeria’s ex-military head of state, Gen. Yakubu Gowon.

The President of the ECOWAS Commission, Omar Touray, said the decisions were taken in the interest of unity and security in the African sub-region.

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