Sahel Nations Forge Ahead with Plans for Confederation Amid Regional Shifts

Afaf Fahchouch
Afaf Fahchouch
2 Min Read

Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger have reaffirmed their commitment to establish a confederation, according to statements from the Malian foreign ministry on Thursday.

The decision to deepen ties through a confederation marks a notable shift in the dynamics of West African integration, as the three nations seek closer collaboration amidst evolving regional challenges.

This move comes shortly after the trio announced their withdrawal from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in January 2024, a decision that has prompted calls from the bloc to reconsider, citing potential additional hardships.

Despite their historical roles as founding members of ECOWAS in 1975, Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger had faced suspension following military coups that ousted democratically elected governments.

General Kassoum Coulibaly, Burkina Faso’s Defence Minister, emphasized the importance of advancing discussions on the “instruments, mechanisms, and procedures” necessary for establishing the legal framework of the confederation, as reported by Reuters during talks in Ouagadougou.

Echoing Coulibaly’s sentiments, General Salifou Modi, Niger’s Defence Minister, expressed optimism about the efficiency and benefits of the confederation for the populations of all three countries.

In a noteworthy development from November, finance ministers from the three nations had announced their consideration of establishing a monetary union. Furthermore, high-ranking officials from Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger have expressed varying levels of support for moving away from the CFA franc, the common currency used in West Africa.

The recent shifts in regional alliances have also seen the military juntas severing longstanding ties with France, their former colonial ruler. This move has not only diminished France’s influence in the Sahel but has also posed challenges to international efforts aimed at countering militant groups affiliated with al Qaeda and the Islamic State.

As Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger move forward with their plans for a confederation and explore avenues for greater economic and political integration, the broader implications of these developments on regional stability and cooperation remain to be seen.


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