Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso sign new Sahel pact

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Mali has joined neighboring nations Niger and Burkina Faso in establishing the Alliance of Sahel States, a treaty among new leaders in a region that previously established security agreements (like the G5 nations) facilitated by France and others with a presence in the Sahel.

“I signed today … the Liptako-Gourma Charter establishing the Alliance of Sahel States (AES),” said Mali leader Col. Assimi Goïta, “with the objective of establishing an architecture of collective defense and mutual assistance for the benefit of our populations.”

Saturday’s new agreement follows alignment among the three nations in response to challenges from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), in particular, since the most recent coup in Niger. ECOWAS, which counts all three Sahel nations as member states, has threatened military intervention in Niger, while the new agreement commits the three parties to protecting the sovereignty of each.

In Niger, President Mohamed Bazoum was displaced by a July 26 coup that put Gen. Abdourahamane Tiani into leadership. “Together, we will build a peaceful, prosperous and united Sahel,” said Tiani following the announcement.

Goïta has led Mali since 2021, following the removal of longtime leader Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta and transitional leader Bah N’Daw. Keïta died in 2022. Former Burkinabè leader Roch Marc Christian Kaboré resigned following a military takeover in January 2022, with current leader Ibrahim Traoré replacing coup chief Lt. Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba later in the year.

ECOWAS, the African Union, and Western nations and organizations have repeatedly warned against Sahelian alliances that appear to shut out their influence, as with the new agreement. Some have raised concerns over the presence of private Wagner Group forces from Russia acting in the Sahel.

Last December, Ghanaian President Nana Akufo Addo accused Burkina Faso of entering a military agreement with Mali that relied on Wagner forces to ensure security. Ghana, Togo, and other border nations have shared concern over extremist group activity and the changing landscape in the Sahel, though there was no immediate response from ECOWAS on the new deal.

The post Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso sign new Sahel pact first appeared on Africa Times.

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