West African Leaders Meetas Coup-Hit Countries Form Alliance

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West African Leaders Meetas Coup-Hit Countries Form Alliance
West African Leaders Meetas Coup-Hit Countries Form Alliance

Africa-Press – Gambia. A West African leaders’ summit has opened a day after the military rulers of Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger forged a new alliance severing ties with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

The ECOWAS summit is being hosted in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, after several West African leaders called for a resumption of dialogue with the three coup-hit Sahel countries, which signed a new defence pact on Saturday during a summit of their own in Niamey, the capital of Niger.

Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger announced the pact, known as the Alliance of Sahel States, last September. It allows them to cooperate in the event of armed rebellion or external aggression. The three countries withdrew from ECOWAS in January after the regional bloc’s tough stand against the coups.

Reporting from Abuja, Al Jazeera’s Ahmed Idris said the timing of Saturday’s announcement by the Sahel alliance was aimed at showing the three countries can do without the regional bloc.

“But some analysts say Mali and Niger in particular could face difficulties if all member countries of ECOWAS decide to isolate the two landlocked countries,” he said.

“Right now, the military leaders of Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger seem to have momentum on their side and they are scouting the global community for support. ECOWAS has a lot of work ahead before it can bring these three countries back into the fold, if at all they agree to do that.”

Speaking at the summit on Saturday, Niger’s General Abdourahamane Tchiani called the 50-year-old ECOWAS “a threat to our states”, adding that the three countries aim to create an alliance free of foreign influence for their people.

ECOWAS lifted sanctions on Niger in February in an attempt to mend relations, but little progress has been made. The bloc had imposed sanctions following the July 2023 coup that brought Tchiani to power.

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