BAMAKO: The military leaders of Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger have signed a mutual defence pact, ministerial delegations from the three Sahel countries announced in Mali’s capital Bamako.

The Liptako-Gourma Charter establishes the Alliance of Sahel States (AES), Mali’s junta leader Assimi Goita posted on X, formerly known as Twitter. Its aim is to “establish an architecture of collective defence and mutual assistance for the benefit of our populations”, he wrote.

The Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger borders meet in the Liptako-Gourma region.

All the three countries have undergone coups since 2020, most recently Niger, where soldiers in July overthrew President Mohamed Bazoum. The West African regional bloc ECOWAS has threatened to intervene militarily in Niger over the coup. Mali and Burkina Faso quickly responded by saying that any such operation would be deemed a “declaration of war” against them.

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

Published in Dawn, September 18th, 2023

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