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Liberia: . Burkina Faso, Mali & Niger Finalize Plan to Form Confederation

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In a historic move, Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger have finalized their plan to form a confederation, officially marking their shift away from former colonial ruler France and toward closer ties with Russia. The announcement came after a meeting of the countries’ foreign ministers in Niger’s capital, Niamey.

The newly formed Confederation of the Alliance of Sahel States (AES) aims to institutionalize and operationalize a unified front to tackle the region’s security and economic challenges. Niger’s Foreign Minister, Bakary Yaou Sangare, detailed the outcomes of the meeting in a statement released late Friday.

“The objective was to finalize the draft text relating to the institutionalization and operationalization of the Confederation of the Alliance of Sahel States (AES),” Sangare stated.

A New Era For The Sahel

The draft text, which will be presented for adoption by the heads of state of Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger at an upcoming summit, signifies a significant geopolitical shift in the region. Although the exact date of the summit was not disclosed, the formation of the AES marks a clear intent to establish a new regional order.

Malian Foreign Minister Abdoulaye Diop, after meeting with General Abdourahamane Tiani, head of Niger’s military regime, declared the birth of the AES.

“We can consider very clearly, today, that the Confederation of the Alliance of Sahel States (AES) has been born,” Diop announced.

The Sahel region, plagued by jihadist violence for years, has seen increasing frustration with France’s inability to curb the insurgency. Also, the French government has been accused of exploiting its former colonies.

This dissatisfaction has led Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger to sever ties with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), which they accuse of being under French influence. The three countries announced their departure from ECOWAS in January, paving the way for the formation of the AES.

Seeking New Alliances 

The AES’s pivot towards Russia reflects a broader trend in African geopolitics, where countries are seeking new alliances beyond traditional Western powers. This realignment underscores a desire for diversified diplomatic and military support, especially in combating terrorism and fostering economic development.

The establishment of the AES is seen as a strategic move to enhance regional cooperation and address the persistent threat of jihadist violence. By pooling resources and coordinating efforts, the member states aim to create a more effective response to security challenges that have long plagued the Sahel region.

However, the formation of the AES also raises questions about the future of regional cooperation in West Africa. With Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger charting their own course, the dynamics within ECOWAS and the broader West African region are likely to shift. There is concern that the AES could potentially attract other nations facing similar challenges and frustrations with existing regional bodies.

Ousmane Sonko, recently appointed as Senegal’s Prime Minister, has reportedly hinted at the possibility of closing French military bases in the country. This move aligns with Sonko’s long-standing stance against French influence in Senegal, a remnant of its colonial past.

Sonko and President Bassirou Diomaye Faye, have expressed a commitment to greater national sovereignty, including reevaluating foreign military presence and renegotiating mining, oil, and gas contracts to better benefit Senegal.

“We must question the reasons why the French army for example still benefits from several military bases in our country and the impact of this presence on our national sovereignty and our strategic autonomy,” he said.

“I reiterate here the desire of Senegal to have its own control, which is incompatible with the lasting presence of foreign military bases in Senegal… Many countries have promised defense agreements, but this does not justify the fact that a third of the Dakar region is now occupied by foreign garrisons.

“More than 60 years after our independence… we must question the reasons why the French army for example still benefits from several military bases in our country and the impact of this presence on our national sovereignty and our strategic autonomy.”

Thus, the AES represents a bold step for Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger as they seek to redefine their regional and international relationships.

By moving away from French influence and aligning more closely with Russia, these nations are signaling their intent to take control of their own security and economic destinies.

However, experts believe that the success of the AES will depend on the member states’ ability to effectively collaborate and implement their shared goals in the face of ongoing regional challenges.

By  Samuel Nwite 

 

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