Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso are eyeing a political and monetary alliance, Niger’s military leader said on national television of a move that could mark a further break with the West African regional bloc. Niger’s General Abdourahamane Tiani did not give a timeline or details about the project, but said it was one of the reasons for his recent visit to both countries.
“In addition to the security domain, our alliance must evolve in the political domain and in the monetary domain,” he said in an interview on Niger’s RTS channel late on Sunday. The three neighbouring states are all ruled by military juntas that have seized power in coups since 2020. This has put them at odds with the rest of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the region’s main political and economic bloc which is urging them to return to democratic rule.
Abandoning the eight-member West African monetary union and adopting a new currency would further isolate Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso, who have called their new union the Alliance of Sahel States (AES).
The three countries and five others in the region currently use the West African CFA franc, a currency which is pegged to the euro and which critics see as a relic from French colonial rule. Burkina Faso’s military leader Ibrahim Traoré also discussed his vision for closer ties with Mali and Niger in a speech on Sunday night. “The Alliance of Sahel States … (is) a defence alliance a priori, but which will evolve toward an economic alliance and much more,” Traore said. The three states’ finance ministers in November issued a joint statement recommending that a committee of experts be set up to study the question of an economic and monetary union. They also recommended the creation of a joint stabilisation fund and investment bank, among other measures.