In a new twist to counter the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), three West African Sahel countries, Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger, all ruled by military juntas, signed a security pact on Saturday, promising to come to each other’s aid in the event of rebellion or external aggression.
The three countries are battling insurgents linked to al Qaeda and the Islamic State, and their relations with neighbours and international partners have been strained due to the coups.
The latest coup in Niger has strained relations between the three countries that comprise the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), which has threatened to use force to restore constitutional rule in the country.
Mali and Burkina Faso have pledged to help Niger if it is attacked.
“Any attack on the sovereignty and territorial integrity of one or more contracted parties will be considered an aggression against the other parties,” the Alliance of Sahel States’ charter states.
It stated that the other countries will assist individually or collectively, including through armed forces.
“I have today signed the Liptako-Gourma charter establishing the Alliance of Sahel States with the Heads of State of Burkina Faso and Niger to establish a collective defence and mutual assistance framework,” Mali junta leader Assimi Goita said on his X social media account.
All three states were members of the G5 Sahel alliance, launched in 2017 to combat extremism in the region and was supported by France.
Mali has since left the dormant organization following a military coup, and Niger’s deposed President Mohamed Bazoum stated in May last year that the force is now “dead” due to Mali’s departure.