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.
What if the “epidemic of coups” in West and Central Africa is not that at all but a direct outcome of outright revolutionary movements, similar to the anti-colonial movements that liberated most African nations from the yoke of Western colonialism throughout the 20th century? Whether this is the case or not, we are unlikely to find out anytime soon, simply because the voices of these African nations are essentially and deliberately muted. For us to understand the real motives behind the spate of military takeovers in West and Central Africa – eight since 2020 – we are, sadly, compelled to read about it in Western media.
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…
The recent increased frequency of coups in West Africa or what some have called ‘coup contagion ’ are mere symptoms of deeper problems that are rooted in a combination of factors. Together they have dialectically combined to produce a general climate of increased instability, insecurity, violence and suffering of the masses of people just trying to make a living. Several of the coups have been regarded as ‘popular’ by some because they represent (at least so far) a welcomed change from incompetent corrupt governments. Some populations in Mali and Burkina Faso are desperate for a government and force that can mitigate terrorist criminal violence perpetrated by non-state actors which at the same time can be trusted to provide for their needs, even if those coup leaders may not necessarily be altruistic, but to some extent self-interested.