The military governments of three African states, which all deposed their Western-backed leaders in recent years, have agreed to assist each other, individually or collectively, in case of any external aggression or internal threat to their sovereignty.
Media reports said:
Mali’s interim president, Assimi Goita, said on Saturday night that he signed the so-called Liptako-Gourma Charter with the leaders of Burkina Faso and Niger “with the aim of establishing a collective defense and mutual assistance framework.”
“Any attack on the sovereignty and territorial integrity of one or more contracted parties will be considered an aggression against the other parties,” according to the text of the charter, cited by Reuters.
The charter establishes an Alliance of Sahel States, which comprises three countries which had previously been members of the Paris-supported G5 Sahel pact with Chad and Mauritania, that has fallen apart following a series of military coups.
The Defense Minister of Mali, Abdoulaye Diop, explained that this new “alliance will be a combination of military and economic efforts between the three countries” with a priority on the fight against terrorism, particularly in the Liptako-Gourma region where the borders of the three neighbors meet.
Mali and Burkina Faso previously stated that any attack on Niger would be a “declaration of war” against them as well, after several of Niger’s neighbors from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) threatened to send troops to restore deposed President Mohamed Bazoum.
Paris was forced to withdraw troops from Mali following tensions with the military government in 2020. Earlier this year, it also pulled out of Burkina Faso after the country’s military rulers ordered them to leave.
Niger’s coup leaders also canceled military agreements that allowed French forces to fight jihadists in the Sahel region, giving the former colonial power only a month to pull out its 1,500 troops. France, however, ignored the ultimatum and demands for its ambassador to leave, as it refused to recognize the authority of the new leadership.
France Planning Aggression Against Niger, Claims Niamey
Another media report said:
France is planning to intervene in Niger, as it continues to deploy troops to several countries in the region, the West African state’s military government has claimed. Relations between Niger and former colonial power France have deteriorated since a coup in July.
“France continues to deploy its forces in several ECOWAS countries as part of preparations for an aggression against Niger, which it is planning in collaboration with this community organization,” Colonel Amadou Abdramane, spokesman for the government in Niamey, said in a statement broadcast on national television on Saturday, as quoted by AFP.
ECOWAS has threatened to intervene in the country to restore its ousted president Mohamed Bazoum to office. Top French officials have also stated several times that Paris would support military action by the bloc.
However, according to Niger’s military-appointed Prime Minister, Ali Lamine Zeine, military action by ECOWAS is not supported by all member states. He also told the media on Monday that the new government in Niamey was hoping to reach an agreement with the bloc in the “coming days.”
Nigerien military leaders have previously denounced the presence of French troops in the country as “illegal” and demanded their prompt withdrawal.
While speaking during the G20 summit in New Delhi, French President Emmanuel Macron said that since his country doesn’t recognize the Nigerien military government, any redeployment of its forces might be done only “at the request of President Bazoum.”
Paris already had to withdraw troops from Burkina Faso earlier this year. France also pulled its forces out of Mali following tensions with the military government after a coup in 2020.