France’s ambassador to Niger, Sylvain Itté, left Niamey early on September 27, three days after Paris announced that it would also withdraw its 1,500 troops from the West African country by the end of the year. Niger has joined its regional neighbors, Mali and Burkina Faso, in expelling French troops from its soil. The three countries have since forged a pact for collective defense and mutual cooperation, known as the Alliance of Sahel States (AES), amid rising attacks by armed groups in the region. The AES was formed just days before the 78th session of the United National General Assembly.
Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS)
In Bamako, Mali, on September 16, the governments of Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger created the Alliance of Sahel States (AES). On X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, Colonel Assimi Goïta, the head of the transitional government of Mali, wrote that the Liptako-Gourma Charter which created the AES would establish “an architecture of collective defense and mutual assistance for the benefit of our populations.” The hunger for such regional cooperation goes back to the period when France ended its colonial rule. Between 1958 and 1963, Ghana and Guinea were part of the Union of African States, which was to have been the seed for wider pan-African unity. Mali was a member as well between 1961 and 1963.
In a major advancement towards mutual cooperation, the governments of Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger have formed the Alliance of Sahel States (AES). The move was finalized with the signing of the Liptako-Gourma Charter, named after the tri-border region shared by the three countries, in Mali’s capital Bamako on Saturday, September 16. “This alliance will be a combination of military and economic efforts between the three countries…Our priority is the fight against terrorism,” Malian Defense Minister Abdoulaye Diop told journalists. The three countries have committed to “prevent, manage, and resolve any armed rebellion or threat to the territorial integrity and sovereignty…
Questioning the “sincerity” of France’s comments about the withdrawal of its troops from Niger, the transitional military government, the National Council for the Safeguard of the Homeland (CNSP), has accused the former colonizer of mobilizing for war. CNSP spokesperson Col. Maj. Amadou Abdramane said on September 9 that a “hundred or so rotations of [French] military cargo planes unloaded large quantities of war material and equipment” in multiple member countries of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). He added that “two A400M type military transport aircraft and a Dornier 328 were deployed as reinforcements in Ivory Coast”, and “two Super Puma type multi-role helicopters” and “around forty armored vehicles” have been deployed “in Kandi and Malanville in Benin”.