Niger’s military ruler General Abdourahamane Tiani on Thursday met with his counterparts in Mali and Burkina Faso in his first international visits since seizing power in July.
Niger’s neighbours Mali and Burkina Faso which are ruled by military leaders who seized power in 2020 and 2022, respectively — have pledged solidarity with Niger’s coup leaders.
Tiani arrived in Burkina Faso on Thursday evening for a “friendship and working visit” with Captain Ibrahim Traore.
The pair discussed “issues common to both countries, in particular the fight against terrorism and socio-economic development”, according to a statement from Burkina’s presidency.
In Bamako earlier in the day, he had thanked his Malian counterpart Colonel Assimi Goita for “the support and determination of the Malian authorities and people to work with the authorities and people of Niger, whatever the obstacles”.
The three Sahel countries in September signed a pact that includes provisions for mutual defence in the event of an attack on the “sovereignty and territorial integrity” of any of the countries.
While in Mali, Tiani said the aim of the alliance was to transform the Sahel region from an “area of insecurity” to “an area of prosperity”.
The leaders also plan to strengthen economic ties and Tiani thanked his neighbours for standing by his country after Niger’s regional and Western partners announced a series of sanctions against it following the coup.
“It would seem that the purpose of the embargo was to exert pressure on the authorities,” Tiani said.
“But this does not take into account the fact it is actually the people who are suffering… that is why we are willing to exchange, to negotiate, but with people motivated by good will, with sincere people, with people who care about the African people.”
The regimes are also united in the fight against jihadism in their countries.
Shortly after taking power, Tiani pledged to return Niger to civilian rule within three years.
Mali, meanwhile, has indefinitely postponed a presidential election that was scheduled for early 2024.
Mali plans to host ministers from the three countries for meetings with the aim of ironing out the operational details of the new Sahel alliance, it said in a statement Thursday.