Junta leaders’ assembly overshadows West African summit

A West African leaders’ summit opens on Sunday amid political turmoil after the army rulers of Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso cemented a breakaway union at a rival assembly.

The three nations introduced they have been forming a brand new confederation, and their defiant first gathering on the eve of the Financial Group of West African States (ECOWAS) summit marks one other check for the regional bloc they break up away from earlier this 12 months.

ECOWAS is already wrestling with sweeping jihadist violence, monetary hassle and the challenges of mustering a regional drive.

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It was not clear how the weakened bloc would reply after Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso adopted a treaty establishing a “Confederation of Sahel States” in Niamey on Saturday.

– Backs turned –
The juntas in these three nations got here to energy in a sequence of coups over latest years and introduced their joint departure from ECOWAS in January.

They’ve shifted away from former colonial ruler France and expelled French troops, with Niger’s Normal Abdourahamane Tiani calling for the institution of a “neighborhood far faraway from the stranglehold of overseas powers”.

“Our individuals have irrevocably turned their backs on ECOWAS,” Normal Tiani mentioned on Saturday, rebuffing the bloc’s pleas to come back again into the fold.

The Sahel nations’ ECOWAS exit was fuelled partially by their accusation that Paris was manipulating the bloc and never offering sufficient assist for anti-jihadist efforts.

Sunday’s summit within the Nigerian capital Abuja comes after a number of West African presidents referred to as for the resumption of dialogue.

It is going to be the primary such assembly for Senegal’s new President Bassirou Diomaye Faye, who mentioned in Might that reconciliation was potential.

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Niger’s ties with ECOWAS deteriorated following the July 2023 coup that introduced Tiani to energy, when the bloc imposed sanctions and threatened to intervene militarily to revive ousted president Mohamed Bazoum.

The sanctions have been lifted in February however relations stay frosty.

– Navy drive –
Forward of the ECOWAS summit, defence and finance ministers have been trying into funding a long-proposed “regional drive to fight terrorism and restore constitutional order”, in keeping with the ECOWAS Fee.

It referred to as for the institution of an preliminary 1,500-strong unit, and one proposal was to then muster a brigade of 5,000 troopers at a price of round $2.6 billion a 12 months.

ECOWAS has launched army interventions up to now, however its risk of doing so after the coup in Niger fizzled out.

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Because the bloc grapples with regional challenges, ECOWAS Fee chief Omar Alieu Touray warned that its “monetary state of affairs is dwindling”.

Forward of the summit, he referred to as for “pressing and decisive motion to allow ECOWAS to answer the varied calls for of the day.”

There have been additionally studies of a rift over the potential reappointment of Nigerian President Bola Ahmed Tinubu as ECOWAS chair.

Media adviser to the Nigerian president Bayo Onanuga instructed AFP that “whereas some nations need him to stay as a result of the area has confronted some disaster, the Francophone nations need the seat.”

Some French-speaking nations have been anticipated to ship their overseas ministers to Sunday’s summit as an alternative of their leaders.

Benin’s overseas minister instructed AFP that President Patrice Talon wouldn’t be attending “for scheduling causes” and denied a dispute, saying that Talon supported Tinubu’s reappointment.

  • AFP

    Agence France-Presse (AFP) is likely one of the world’s three predominant information wire providers.

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