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Faith Nyasuguta

In a historic first joint summit, the leaders of the military regimes of Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger announced the formation of a confederation of three Sahel states. The summit took place in the Nigerien capital of Niamey.

In a joint statement, the leaders revealed plans to formalize their alliance through a treaty, signaling a significant shift in regional dynamics. The military regimes in these nations came to power through coups within their respective countries. 

“This summit marks a decisive step for the future of our common space. Together, we will consolidate the foundations of our true independence, a guarantee of true peace and sustainable development through the creation of the ‘Alliance of Sahel States’ Confederation,” wrote Capt. Ibrahim Traore, the leader of Burkina Faso, on X, formerly known as Twitter.

The summit and the formation of the confederation indicate a potential departure from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). The three leaders have previously expressed intentions to exit the coalition by this year, despite ECOWAS’s efforts at reconciliation.

Tensions between ECOWAS and the Sahel nations escalated after General Abdourahamane Tiani’s coup in Niger, which ousted President Mohamed Bazoum. In response, ECOWAS imposed sanctions on Niger and threatened military intervention, further straining relations. 

Burkina Faso’s new military leader Ibrahim Traore (L) and Niger’s Gen Abdourahmane Tchiani/Courtesy/

“The AES (Alliance of Sahel States) is full of enormous natural potential which, if properly exploited, will guarantee a better future for the people of Niger, Mali, and Burkina Faso,” said Traore.

The new alliance represents a combined population of 72 million people, posing potential concerns for neighboring countries. The confederation aims to enhance cooperation on security issues and foster closer economic ties among the three nations.

In December of last year, the foreign ministers of Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger proposed the creation of the confederation, marking a significant move towards uniting these West African neighbors. During a two-day meeting in Bamako, the top diplomats outlined the operational aspects of the new alliance, emphasizing the importance of diplomacy, defense, and development in achieving political and economic integration.

Malian Foreign Minister Abdoulaye Diop announced that recommendations from these discussions would be presented to each head of state at a future meeting in Bamako, with the date yet to be specified. The proposal aligns with the broader vision of strengthening regional collaboration.

In late November, the economy and finance ministers of the three nations recommended the establishment of a stabilization fund, an investment bank, and a committee to study an economic and monetary union. These initiatives aim to foster economic resilience and enhance financial cooperation within the confederation.


The groundwork for this alliance was laid in mid-September when the military leaders of Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger signed the Liptako-Gourma Charter. This charter formalized their commitment to regional collaboration and set the stage for the formation of the Alliance of Sahel States.

The creation of this confederation marks a significant development in West African politics, with the potential to reshape the region’s economic and security landscape.


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Faith Nyasuguta

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