Sahel military leaders mark divorce from West Africa bloc ECOWAS

The military regimes of Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso marked their divorce from the rest of West Africa Saturday as they signed a treaty setting up a confederation between them.

The military leaders ruling Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger entered a new "confederation" Saturday as they signed a treaty during their first summit in Niamey, after having severed ties with an existing West African bloc.

The heads of the three countries, who took power through coups in recent years, "decided to take a step further towards greater integration between the member states" and "adopted a treaty establishing a confederation", they said in a statement at the end of Saturday's summit.

The "Confederation of Sahel States", which will use the acronym AES, will group some 72 million people.

The three countries in January said they were quitting the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), an organisation they accused of being manipulated by France, their former colonial ruler.

The three countries have all broken their military and defence links with France, seeking greater cooperation with Russia.


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