From the blog

NIGER: Military Leaders Of Mali, Burkina Faso & Niger Rules Out Rejoining ECOWAS

Military leaders of Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger have said that they had no plans to rejoin the West African regional bloc ECOWAS that they left in January after accusing the body of being manipulated by former colonial ruler France.

Speaking at the first gathering of its kind since military coups in all three countries, Niger’s military leader Gen Abdourahmane Tchiani said the nearly 50-year-old Economic Community of West Africa States has become “a threat to our states.”

The three leaders agreed to strengthen their own union, the Alliance of Sahel States (AES), created last year amid fractured relations with neighbours.

“[It will be] an AES of the peoples, instead of an ECOWAS whose directives and instructions are dictated to it by powers that are foreign to Africa,” Tchiani said.

Burkina Faso’s leader Capt. Ibrahim Traore went further, accusing Western countries of exploiting Africa.

“Westerners consider that we belong to them, and our wealth also belongs to them. They think that they are the ones who must continue to tell us what is good for our states. This era is gone forever; our resources will remain for us and our populations,” Traore said.

“The attack on one of us will be an attack on all the other members,” Mali’s leader Col. Assimi Goïta also said.

The meeting, which took place in Niger’s capital Niamey, came on the eve of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) summit in Nigeria.