Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger to form a Confederation

Leaders of the military regimes in Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger have formed a new block calling it “Alliance of Sahel States (AES).”

It is not clear how closely the AES will harmonise political, economic and defence policies as it struggles to contain a decade-old battle with insurgents and grow economies that are among the world’s poorest, reports Reuters.

They held their first joint summit on Saturday in the Nigerien capital of Niamey, where they announced the confederation of three Sahel states. In a joint statement after the summit, the leaders of the three nations stated that they would release a treaty to formalise the confederation. The military regimes came to power in the three nations after they staged military coups within their respective nations.

The summit appears to have signalled their departure from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), which the three leaders said they would leave earlier this year despite frequent efforts at reconciliation by the bloc, reports Politics Africa. The three countries, with a combined population of 72 million, are affected by instability caused by militant groups.

Armed groups have increased attacks across West Africa’s Sahel region in recent years. Almost six million people have been displaced across the region. The military leaders of the three states have accused ECOWAS of being ineffective against armed groups and France of interfering in their internal affairs.

ECOWAS is looking to form a dedicated security force to confront armed groups in the region. This could be a force of 5,000 soldiers with a budget of $2.6 billion per year. ECOWAS said that suspended states should not be excluded from military cooperation.

Disclaimer: The article has reference to open sources including Reuters, Al Jazeera and Politics Africa.