Burkina Faso is seeking to form a federation with neighbouring Mali in order to unite efforts to overcome the common challenges facing the two nations.
Forming the federation would also enhance their economic potential for joint influence, Burkina Faso’s Prime Minister Apollinaire De-Tambela revealed.
Both neighbouring West African nations have been facing the same challenges over the past few years.
The challenges start from the ongoing fight against terrorist groups linked to Daesh* and al-Qaeda*.
The development came less than two weeks after Paris recalled its ambassador to Burkina Faso for “consultations”.
France also announced its plans to pull out its military forces from the West African country in February.
This was after Ouagadougou suspended a 2018 military cooperation agreement that allowed French troops to remain.
De-Tambela believes that the two former French colonies “could create a flexible federation.
Such federation, he said, would be mutually reinforcing and respect aspirations of both sides,” according to the office of PM.
“Mali is a major producer of cotton, cattle and gold.
“Burkina Faso also produces cotton, cattle and gold,” the prime minister said, as quoted by his office.
“So long as we each take separate paths, we don’t have much clout.
“But if you put Mali’s and Burkina Faso’s production of cotton, gold and cattle together, it becomes a powerhouse.”
De-Tambela met during his Tuesday-Wednesday trip to Bamako with Malian Prime Minister Choguel Kokalla Maiga.
He recalled a previous attempt to form a federation linking the French West African colonies of Senega and Mali.
“Our forebears tried to create groupings, like the Mali Federation, which sadly did not last.
“But they showed us the way,” he said.
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“My reason for going to Mali is that we’ve been looking elsewhere for solutions when they’re right under our noses.”
Although Bamako has not officially replied to Ouagadougou’s suggestion, Mali’s PM Choguel Maiga admitted the two nations share “same goals.”
The Malian PM noted that the military governments in Bamako and Ouagadougou share similar “principles” of defending national sovereignty.
They also have the freedom to choose foreign partners and national interests.
“I’m certain that all countries, who want to take control of their destiny and our brothers and friends in Burkina Faso shared these principles.
“They have similar demands,” Maiga said.
“We are willing to share our experience and to enrich our ideas and experience from others.
“And most especially from our brothers with whom we share the same goals.”
Burkina Faso and Mali are both part of the highly destabilised African Sahel region, known to be a hotbed for terrorist activity and banditry.
With the aid of French forces, each of the two states has been leading a fight against jihadist insurgencies, linked to Daesh* and al-Qaeda*, that have plagued the Sahel region since 2011.
However, over the years, along with the shifts of power that took place in Mali and Burkina Faso, ties with France became strained.
In the meanwhile, the two neighbours saw in Moscow a promising partner that can assist them in their anti-terrorist wars.
In August 2022, amid growing anti-French sentiment and protests against the French presence in Mali, France announced it was withdrawing its forces from the West African country.
The government of Mali accused Paris of supporting terrorist groups inside the country by providing them with intelligence, arms and ammunition instead of fighting them,
After less than five months, a similar scenario happened in neighbouring Burkina Faso, where regular demonstrations demanded the departure of France’s envoy to Ouagadougou, Luc Hallade, as well as French troops stationed at the Kamboinsin military base in the Burkinabe capital.
Protesters cited France’s failure to achieve security in the country and interference in the former colony’s internal affairs.
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