New Sahel Confederation challenges regional order as ECOWAS seeks dialogue

The military heads of Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger convened for the inaugural summit of the Confederation of the Sahel States (AES). The leaders emphasised territorial and popular sovereignty as core principles of their leadership through a new treaty. Concurrently, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is exploring strategies to persuade these nations to realign with the regional bloc.

Colonel Assimi Goïta of Mali, Captain Ibrahim Traoré of Burkina Faso and Niger’s General Abdourahamane Tiani met in Niamey, a day ahead of the summit of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), held on Sunday 7 July in Abuja.

The three Sahel leaders, who came to power through military coups between 2020 and 2023, said they wanted to take the Alliance, set up in September 2023, a step further by establishing it as a confederation.

The Confederation of the Sahel States, which will use the acronym AES, is headed by Mali in its first year. AES regroups 72 million people.

"Our people have irrevocably turned their backs on ECOWAS," Niger's ruling General Abdourahamane Tiani told the cheering crowd attending the Niamey summit.

AES pulled out of ECOWAS in February 2024.

However, the ECOWAS leaders are intent on reconciliation. They chose Senegal’s President Faye – who said he wanted to break away from old alliances - to act as special envoy for Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger, along with Togo’s President Faure Gnassingbe.

Read more on RFI English

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