By Enyichukwu Enemanna
Burkina Faso and Niger military leaders on Saturday said they would no more be part of the G-5 anti-jihadi force in Africa’s Sahel region set up in 2014 to fight Islamists, saying it is serving a foreign interest.
Burkina and Niger “have decided in full sovereignty to quit all instances of the G5 Sahel, including the joint force” as of November 29, the two countries said in a joint statement.
“The organization is failing to achieve its objectives. Worse, the legitimate ambitions of our countries, of making the G5 Sahel a zone of security and development, are hindered by institutional red tape from a previous era, which convinces us that our process of independence and dignity is not compatible with G5 participation in its current form,” they said.
Mali had last year announced its decision to quit the group which originally was comprised of five-nation force in the wake of a military coup.
The three countries are run by military rulers following coups, and have formed their own mutual defence pact.
Chad and Mauritania are still part of the G-5 force which is meant to be made up of about 5,000 soldiers from the five nations.
Burkina Faso and Niger in a veiled reference to France, added that “the G5 Sahel cannot serve foreign interests to the detriments of our people, and even less the dictates of any power in the name of a partnership that treats them like children, denying the sovereignty of our peoples.”
Along with Mali, which saw a military coup in 2020, Burkina has backed Niger’s military, with the three nations on Friday supporting the creation of an Alliance of Sahel States, setting up closer economic ties and mutual defense assistance.
The military regimes have also formed close ties against international pressure for a swift return to civilian rule, and to combat the long-running jihadi insurgencies raging in the three countries.