Burkina, Mali vow to defend Niger, as regional bloc threatens intervention

AP , Tuesday 1 Aug 2023

Two West African nations ruled by mutinous soldiers said Monday that military intervention in Niger would be considered a “declaration of war” against them, as the junta attempts to consolidate power after a coup last week.

In this image made from video, Col. Abdoulaye Maiga, Mali s state minister for Territorial Administration and Decentralisation, speaks on state television network ORTM on July 31, 2023 in Bamako, Mali. AP


The West African regional body known as ECOWAS announced travel and economic sanctions against Niger on Sunday over the coup, and said it would use force if the coup leaders don’t reinstate Bazoum within one week. Bazoum’s government was one of the West’s last democratic partners against West African extremists.

In a joint statement from the military governments of Mali and Burkina Faso, the two countries wrote that “any military intervention against Niger will be considered as a declaration of war against Burkina Faso and Mali.”

Col. Abdoulaye Maiga, Mali’s state minister for Territorial Administration and Decentralisation, read the joint statement on Malian state TV Monday evening. The two countries also denounced ECOWAS economic sanctions as “illegal, illegitimate and inhumane” and refused to apply them.

ECOWAS suspended all commercial and financial transactions between its member states and Niger, as well as freezing Nigerien assets held in regional central banks. Niger relies heavily on foreign aid and sanctions could further impoverish its more than 25 million people.

Mali and Burkina Faso have each undergone two coups since 2020, as soldiers overthrew governments claiming they could do a better job fighting increasing jihadi violence linked to al-Qaida and the Islamic State group. ECOWAS has sanctioned both countries and suspended them from the bloc, but never threatened to use force.

Also on Sunday, Guinea, another country under military rule since 2021, issued a statement in support of Niger’s junta and urged ECOWAS to “come to its senses”.

“The sanctions measures advocated by ECOWAS, including military intervention, are an option that would not be a solution to the current problem, but would lead to a human disaster whose consequences could extend beyond Niger’s borders,” said Ibrahima Sory Bangoura, general of the brigade in a statement from the ruling party. He added the Guinea would not apply the sanctions.

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