Niger coup leader visits Mali in first foreign tripThu, 23 Nov 2023 18:19:33 GMT

Niger’s military ruler General Abdourahamane Tiani on Thursday arrived in Mali to meet his counterpart Colonel Assimi Goita in his first international visit since seizing power in July, an AFP journalist noted.Niger’s neighbours, Mali and Burkina Faso — which are ruled by military leaders who seized power in 2020 and 2022, respectively — have pledged solidarity to Niger’s coup leaders.The three Sahel countries in September signed a pact that includes provisions for mutual defence in the event of an attack on the “sovereignty and territorial integrity” of any of the countries.They also plan to strengthen economic ties and Tiani thanked his neighbours for standing by his country after Niger’s regional and Western partners announced a series of sanctions against it following the coup.”It would seem that the purpose of the embargo was to exert pressure on the authorities. But this does not take into account the fact it is actually the people who are suffering and we are aware of this and that is why we are willing to exchange, to negotiate, but with people motivated by good will, with sincere people, with people who care about the African people,” Tiani said.The regimes are also united in the fight against jihadism in their countries.Tiani stayed a few hours in Mali’s capital Bamako and met Goita for a “friendship and working” visit, the Malian presidency said, before leaving for Burkina Faso.Shortly after taking power, Tiani pledged to return Niger to civilian rule within three years. Mali, meanwhile, has indefinitely postponed a presidential election that was scheduled for early 2024.Mali plans to host ministers from the three countries for several meetings in the coming weeks with the aim of ironing out the operational details of the new Sahel alliance, it said in a statement Thursday.