MALI – Military leaders of Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger on Saturday signed a mutual defence pact, ministerial delegations from the three Sahel countries announced in Mali’s capital Bamako.
All three countries have undergone coups since 2020, most recently Niger, where soldiers in July overthrew President Mohamed Bazoum.
The Liptako-Gourma Charter establishes the Alliance of Sahel States (AES), Mali’s junta leader Assimi Goita posted on X, the social network formerly known as Twitter.
According to Africanews, its aim was to “establish an architecture of collective defence and mutual assistance for the benefit of our populations”, he wrote.
The Liptako-Gourma region, where the Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger borders meet, had been ravaged by jihadism in recent years.
“This alliance will be a combination of military and economic efforts between the three countries. Our priority is the fight against terrorism in the three countries,” Mali’s Defence Minister Abdoulaye Diop told journalists.
The charter signed on Saturday binds the signatories to assist one another – including militarily – in the event of an attack on any one of them.
“Any attack on the sovereignty and territorial integrity of one or more contracting parties shall be considered as an aggression against the other parties and shall give rise to a duty of assistance, including the use of armed force to restore and ensure security”, it states.
It also binds the three countries to work to prevent or settle armed rebellions.
Mali has, in addition to fighting jihadists linked to Al Qaeda and the Islamic State group, seen a resumption of hostilities by predominantly Tuareg armed groups over the past week.
The escalation risks testing an already stretched army as well as the junta’s claims that it has successfully turned around a dire security situation.
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