Three military-led West African Sahel countries—Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger—have signed a security treaty that will make them support one another against any external aggression.
They signed the treaty on Saturday, in a development that appeared to counter the threat posed by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
Recall that ECOWAS issued threats to intervene militarily following the July coup in Niger, that ousted President Mohamed Bazoum.
Mali and Burkina Faso have vowed to come to Niger’s aid if it is attacked.
ECOWAS and the West have criticized the three countries over military takeovers, which have strained their relationships with them, even as they struggle to contain insurgents linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State.
In making their support formal, Mali junta leader, Assimi Goita, revealed on X that they signed the pact.
“Any attack on the sovereignty and territorial integrity of one or more contracted parties will be considered an aggression against the other parties,” according to the charter of the pact, known as the Alliance of Sahel States.
It said the other states will assist individually or collectively, including with the use of armed force.
“I have today signed with the Heads of State of Burkina Faso and Niger the Liptako-Gourma charter establishing the Alliance of Sahel States, to establish a collective defense and mutual assistance framework,” Goita wrote on his X social media account.
All three states were members of the France-supported G5 Sahel alliance joint force with Chad and Mauritania, launched in 2017 to tackle extremists in the region.
Mali has since left the dormant organization after a military coup, while deposed Niger’s President Mohamed Bazoum said in May last year that the force is now “dead” following Mali’s departure