Niger, Burkina Faso and Mali to form new confederation – named ‘Alliance of Sahel States’

    Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger are pressing forward with plans to establish a confederation, according to a statement from the Malian foreign ministry on Thursday.

    This move signals a deepening of ties among the three countries who overthrew the seating governments via coups, through an alliance that poses a challenge to broader West African integration efforts.

    In September, the three military-led governments initiated a defense and economic pact known as the Alliance of Sahel States (AES).

    The latest meeting comes just weeks after the neighbours in the impoverished Sahel region announced in January 2024 their withdrawal from the Economic Community of West African states- a decision the bloc has urged them to rethink, warning of the additional hardships this withdrawal would bring.

    All three were founding members of the regional bloc in 1975 but had been suspended following military coups that overthrew elected civilian governments.

    Burkina’s Defence Minister General Kassoum Coulibaly said the talks in Ouagadougou were an opportunity to pursue the implementation of “instruments, mechanisms and procedures” and the “legal architecture for the confederation” as quoted by Reuters.

    The procedures will “allow our alliance and the confederation to function efficiently and to the great joy” of the three countries’ populations, his Niger counterpart General Salifou Modi said.

    Last November, their finance ministers said they would weigh the option of setting up a monetary union and top officials from all three countries have, to varying degrees, voiced support for abandoning West Africa’s CFA franc common currency.

    The juntas have all severed long-standing military ties with former colonial ruler France, dealing a blow to France’s influence in the Sahel and complicating international efforts to fight the militants linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State.