Mali: Niger’s military leader makes first foreign visit to Bamako

Mali

The head of the military regime in Niger, General Abdourahamane Tiani, met with his counterpart leading the military junta in Mali, Assimi Goïta, in his first international visit since the coup in Niamey.

Mr. Tiani expressed gratitude to Mali for “the support and determination of the authorities and the Malian people to stand alongside the authorities and the people of Niger, regardless of the obstacles,” during a press statement before leaving Mali for Burkina Faso.

Mali and Burkina Faso, both led by military leaders who came to power through coups in 2020 and 2022, quickly showed solidarity with the generals in Niamey after their takeover in late July. Together, they established the “Alliance des Etats du Sahel” (AES), which includes mutual assistance in case of threats to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the three states and strengthened economic ties.

The goal is to transform the Sahel region from a “zone of insecurity” to a “zone of prosperity,” stated Mr. Tiani.

Unified against international pressures advocating a return to democratic regimes, the three military regimes also stand united against jihadists whose attacks devastate their countries.

Acknowledging the Niger embargo situation, subject to political and economic sanctions from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), similar to Mali at one point, General Tiani thanked his Malian and Burkinabe neighbours who continue to trade with his country.

“It would appear that the objective of the embargo was to exert pressure on the authorities, but this does not take into account the fact that it is the people who suffer, and we are aware of that. That’s why we are willing to exchange, to negotiate, but with people who are motivated by good intentions, with sincere people, with people who care about the African people,” said Mr. Tiani.

The duration of the transition in Niger is yet to be determined, but General Tiani had announced shortly after taking power that it would not exceed three years. In Mali, the presidential election scheduled for early 2024 has been postponed to an indefinite date.

A statement released on Thursday morning indicates that Bamako will host two ministerial meetings from November 23 to December 1 “to outline the operationalization of the AES,” including the development of texts, the establishment of organs, and the modalities of its functioning.

The first meeting will bring together the Ministers of Economy and Trade on November 25 to discuss economic development issues. The Foreign Ministers of the three countries will meet on November 30 to address political and diplomatic matters.

These meetings will precede a later meeting of the Defense Ministers, as stated in the press release.

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