Burkina Faso and Mali extend solidarity to Niger as ECOWAS threatens a war

Burkina Faso and Mali extend solidarity with Niger's new government, along with Algeria, against the war threat by pro-western ECOWAS.

Burkina Faso and Mali extend solidarity to Niger as ECOWAS threatens a war

The military governments in Burkina Faso and Mali warned the West and other African countries on Monday, July 31st, to not intervene in neighbouring Niger. Bamako and Ouagadougou would regard any move as an attack on their own countries, they said. “Any military intervention against Niger would be considered a declaration of war against Burkina Faso and Mali”, said the fourth point of the joint statement, which the Burkinabe military spokesman deliberately repeated three times on a state television broadcast.

In the event of intervention, the two countries would withdraw from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and “take self-defence measures on behalf of the army and people of Niger”, the statement said.  A military intervention against Niger “could destabilise the entire region, as was NATO’s (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) unilateral intervention in Libya, which was at the root of the spread of terrorism in the Sahel and West Africa,” the two governments said.

France currently has 1,500 troops and one drone base, while the US has 1,100 troops and two drone bases in the territory of Niger. Niger’s troops led by General Abdourahamane Tchiani overthrew President Mohammed Bazum on Wednesday, July 26th. The African Union condemned the coup on Friday, July 28th, and called on the so-called government in Niamey to step down within 15 days or face “punitive measures”.

ECOWAS issued its ultimatum at an emergency meeting in Abuja, Nigeria, on Sunday, July 30th, saying that if Bajum was not restored within a week, it would “take all necessary measures to restore constitutional order”, which could include the use of force. Burkina Faso and Mali condemned as “illegal and inhumane” the sanctions announced by ECOWAS on Saturday.  

On the other hand, Algeria has also stated that it would provide aid to Niger. The governments of Burkina Faso and Mali also expressed “fraternal solidarity” with the people of Niger, “who have decided to take their destiny into their own hands and recognise the fullness of their sovereignty before history”, their joint statement said.

The military governments of the two former French colonies have sought to sever ties with Paris and rebuild their statehoods with Russian help. However, Moscow has officially condemned Niger’s coup as an “unconstitutional move” and Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs called on all parties to refrain from the use of force. 

On Sunday, July 30th, the government of General Tchiani announced that it would suspend the export of uranium and gold to France, which was appreciated by the local population. “We have uranium, diamonds, gold, oil, and we live like slaves? The French don’t have to keep us safe”, the government said.

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