July 20, 2024

General Tiani: “Our people have irrevocably turned their backs on ECOWAS”

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General Tiani: "Our people have irrevocably turned their backs on ECOWAS"

General Tiani: "Our people have irrevocably turned their backs on ECOWAS"

The leader of Niger’s military regime declared on Saturday that the people of Niger, Burkina Faso, and Mali have “irrevocably turned their backs on ECOWAS” during a groundbreaking summit held in Niamey, which brought together the leaders of these three Sahelian nations.

“Our people have irrevocably turned their backs on ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States),” General Abdourahamane Tiani proclaimed at the opening of the Alliance of Sahel States (AES) summit, which unites these three countries that withdrew from the organization earlier this year.

Addressing his counterparts from Burkina Faso and Mali, General Tiani called for the AES to become an “alternative to any superficial regional grouping by building a sovereign community of peoples, a community free from the influence of foreign powers.”

The three AES countries, all governed by military leaders who came to power through coups, announced their departure from ECOWAS in January. They regard the organization as being manipulated by France, the former colonial power, with which they have increasingly severed ties.

Relations between AES and ECOWAS significantly deteriorated following the coup on July 26, 2023, that brought General Tiani to power.

In response, ECOWAS imposed heavy economic sanctions on Niger and threatened military intervention to reinstate ousted President Mohamed Bazoum.

Although these sanctions were lifted in February, the relationship between the two blocs remains tense.

ECOWAS is set to hold a summit of its heads of state in Abuja on Sunday, where the relationship with AES will be a key topic of discussion.

Saturday’s Niamey summit marks the first gathering of the presidents of the Alliance of Sahel States (AES), an organization formed in September 2023.

The alliance includes Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger, all of which face persistent jihadist violence.

“AES represents the only effective sub-regional grouping in the fight against terrorism, as ECOWAS has shown a lack of involvement in this struggle,” General Tiani stated on Saturday.

The formation of AES signifies a major geopolitical shift in West Africa, reflecting a desire for greater autonomy and regional integration in the face of ongoing security challenges.

As the alliance takes shape, its impact on the stability and development of the Sahel region will be closely monitored by international observers.

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