Burkinabe PM Suggests Forming Federation With Mali
Newly appointed Burkina Faso Prime Minister Apollinaire Kyelem de Tembela (C) speaks to press representatives following the first minister’s council after cabinet appointments in Ouagadougou, on October 26, 2022. InternationalIndiaAfricaMuhammad OsmanBoth the two neighboring West African nations have been facing the same challenges over the past few years, starting from the ongoing fight against terrorist groups linked to Daesh* and al-Qaeda*, along with political, social and economic crises which resulted in two military coups taking place in both Burkina Faso and Mali since 2020.Burkina Faso is seeking to form a federation with neighboring Mali in order to unite efforts overcoming the common challenges facing the two nations and enhance their economic potential for joint influence, Burkina Faso’s Prime Minister Apollinaire Kyelem de Tambela revealed.The development came less than two weeks after Paris recalled its ambassador to Burkina Faso for “consultations” and announced its plans to pull out its military forces from the West African country in February after Ouagadougou suspended a 2018 military cooperation agreement that allowed French troops to remain.De Tambela, who revealed the plans during a two-day trip to Bamako this week, believes that the two former French colonies “could create a flexible federation that would be mutually reinforcing and respect the aspirations of both sides,” according to the office of the 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, who met during his Tuesday-Wednesday trip to Bamako with Malian Prime Minister Choguel Kokalla Maiga, recalled a previous attempt to form a federation linking the French West African colonies of Senegal, Mali (known at the time as the Sudanese Republic or French Sudan), Burkina Faso and Benin that took place shortly before their independence from France in 1960.“Our forebears tried to create groupings, like the Mali Federation, which sadly did not last. But they showed us the way,” he said. “One of my reasons for going to Mali is that for a long time we’ve been looking elsewhere for solutions when they’re often right under our noses.”Although Bamako has not officially replied to Ouagadougou’s suggestion, Mali’s PM Choguel Kokalla Maiga admitted during a Tuesday dinner with visiting de Tambela that the two nations share “the same goals.”The Malian PM noted that the military governments in Bamako and Ouagadougou share similar “principles” of defending national sovereignty, and the freedom to choose foreign partners and national interests.“I’m certain that these principles are shared by all countries who want to take control of their destiny, and our brothers and friends in [Burkina] Faso, I’m convinced, must have similar demands,” Maiga said in a video shared by his office. “We are willing to share our experience, our ideas and to enrich our ideas and experience from others, especially from our brothers with whom we share the same goals.”AfricaLavrov: Russia Respects Partners Refusing to Follow ‘Orders From Former Colonial Empires’24 January, 12:47 GMTBurkina Faso and Mali are both part of the highly destabilized 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 has 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 neighbors 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, with the government of Mali accusing Paris of supporting terrorist groups inside the country by providing them with intelligence, arms and ammunition instead of fighting them, France announced it was withdrawing its forces from the West African country.After less than five months, a similar scenario happened in neighboring 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 interfering in the former colony’s internal affairs.AfricaFrance Recalls Its Envoy From Burkina Faso ‘For Consultations’ Following Decision to Withdraw Troops26 January, 07:36 GMTIn late-January, Paris recalled its envoy from Ouagadougou for “consultations”, one day after France announced its plans to pull out its military troops from Burkina Faso after Ouagadougou suspended a 2018 military cooperation agreement that allowed French troops to remain.* Daesh and Al-Qaeda are terrorist organizations banned in Russia and many other countries around the world.