Niger, Mali, Burkina Faso military leaders to cement alliance amid regional tensions


The leaders of three West African military governments—Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger—are meeting for the first time to solidify an alliance created in response to opposition from neighboring countries.

Soldiers took power in these nations through coups between 2020 and 2023. These countries, now forming the Alliance of Sahel States (AES), have been plagued by jihadist violence, which partly justified the military takeovers, according to the BBC.

In January, the three nations announced their plan to leave the broader regional bloc ECOWAS, which held its own summit on Sunday.

At Saturday’s meeting in the Nigerien capital, Niamey, the junta chiefs were expected to formally establish the AES.

Niger’s coup leader, Gen. Abdourahmane Tchiani, is hosting the talks, joined by Burkina Faso’s Capt. Ibrahim Traoré and Mali’s Col. Assimi Goïta.

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Security cooperation is a high priority, but the AES also aims to forge closer economic ties, including the potential creation of a common currency, rejecting the French-backed CFA Franc used by many states in the region.

All three countries have expelled French soldiers, who were part of an anti-jihadist mission, and have turned to Russia for military assistance.

Calls for greater sovereignty and rejection of the former colonial power have been key themes in the junta leaders’ rhetoric.

Despite their efforts, the juntas in Niger, Burkina Faso, and Mali have so far failed to quell the violence.

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