Niger, Burkina Faso, Mali Juntas Sign Mutual Defence Pact To Counter ECOWAS

The military juntas in Mali, Burkina Faso and the Republic of Niger have signed a mutual defence pact with the aim of protecting the region against invasion by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and terrorists.

Truetells Nigeria reports that ministerial delegations from the three Sahel countries met on Saturday in Mali’s capital Bamako.

Mali’s junta leader, Assimi Goita, confirmed the development in a post on X (formerly known as Twitter), saying the Liptako-Gourma Charter establishes the Alliance of Sahel States.

“Its aim is to establish an architecture of collective defence and mutual assistance for the benefit of our populations”, he wrote.

This news platform understands that the Liptako-Gourma region, where the Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger borders meet, has been ravaged by terrorists (Jihadists) in recent years.

“This alliance will be a combination of military and economic efforts between the three countries”, Mali’s Defence Minister Abdoulaye Diop, had told journalists.

He added: “Our priority is the fight against terrorism in the three countries.”

It could be recalled that a jihadist insurgency that erupted in northern Mali in 2012 spread to Niger and Burkina Faso in 2015.

Also, the three countries have undergone coups since 2020, most recently Niger, where soldiers in July overthrew President Mohamed Bazoum.

Naija News reports that the latest agreement between the three countries is coming amid the threat of military invasion by the West African regional bloc ECOWAS over the coup in the Republic Niger.

Mali and Burkina Faso quickly responded by saying that any such operation would be deemed a “declaration of war” against them.

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Mutual Defence Pact Signed

Naija News understands that the mutual defence pact signed on Saturday binds the signatories to assist one another — including militarily — in the event of an attack on any one of them.

“Any attack on the sovereignty and territorial integrity of one or more contracting parties shall be considered as an aggression against the other parties and shall give rise to a duty of assistance… including the use of armed force to restore and ensure security,” the mutual agreement states.

It also binds the three countries to work to prevent or settle armed rebellions.

Naija News understands that Mali has, in addition to fighting jihadists linked to Al Qaeda and the Islamic State group, seen a resumption of hostilities by predominantly Tuareg armed groups over the past week.

The escalation risks testing an already stretched army as well as the junta’s claims that it has successfully turned around a dire security situation.

Records have it that the successionist groups had, in 2012, launched a rebellion before signing a peace agreement with the state in 2015. But that accord is now generally considered moribund.

The renewed military activity by those armed groups has coincided with a series of deadly attacks attributed mainly to the Al-Qaeda-linked jihadist alliance Support Group for Islam and Muslims (GSIM).

Mali’s junta pushed out France’s anti-jihadist force in 2022 and the UN peacekeeping mission MINUSMA in 2023.

French troops have also been pushed out of Burkina Faso, while Niger’s coup leaders have renounced several military cooperation agreements with France.


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