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Mali won't 'stand idly by' if ECOWAS intervenes in Niger

September 24, 2023

The foreign minister of Mali told the UN General Assembly that any military intervention in Niger would threaten Mali's security. The juntas in Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso signed a mutual defense pact last week.

Malian Foreign Minister Abdouaye Diop speaking at the UN General Assembly
Abdouaye Diop also criticized France and praised Russia at the UN General AssemblyImage: Mary Altaffer/AP Photo/picture alliance

Mali's top diplomat has warned that his country "will not stand idly by" if foreign powers intervene in neighboring Niger.

"Mali remains strongly opposed to any military intervention by ECOWAS," Foreign Minister Abdoulaye Diop said on Saturday while representing Mali's military junta at the UN General Assembly.

"Any invasion of this country constitutes a direct threat to the peace and security of Mali, but also to the peace and security of the region, and will necessarily have serious consequences."

What's the situation in Niger?

The West African regional bloc ECOWAS has threatened to stage a military intervention in Niger after democratically elected President Mohamed Bazoum was overthrown in a coup in July.

The country's new military ruler, General Abdourahamane Tchiani, has proposed a three-year transition back to democracy, which ECOWAS has rejected.

ECOWAS has repeatedly called for Bazoum to be released from house arrest and reinstated as the country's leader. It has sent multiple delegations to Niamey to find a diplomatic solution.

A month after coup, Niger's situation is dire

The July coup made Niger the third country in the Sahel region to be led by a military junta since 2020, after Burkina Faso and Mali.

Last week, the military leaders of all three countries signed an agreement for mutual defense in the event of an attack.

Russia's growing influence in the Sahel

In his address at the UN General Assembly, Diop also criticized France for its "neo-colonial domination" while praising Russia's growing influence in the Sahel region.

He accused France of encouraging terrorist activities and moving to prevent Mali's ability to access to loans from regional or multinational financial institutions.

Meanwhile, he made "special mention" of Russia's "active solidarity and reliable commitment both bilaterally and multilaterally."

Russia has been accused of stirring chaos in Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger. Its Wagner mercenary group has been implicated in massacres of civilians and other human rights abuses in the region.

zc/jcg (AFP, EFE)