The West Africa Peoples Organization (WAPO), an “anti-imperialist network that promotes regional unity across West Africa,” has welcomed a proposal for greater collaboration between Burkina Faso, Mali, and Guinea, and has called for coordination and planning of production, trade, infrastructure, economic development, and defense among these countries after the withdrawal of French military forces from the Sahel region.
This collaboration between these countries was prompted after the prime minister of Mali’s transitional government, Choguel Kokalla Maïga, concluded a visit to neighboring Burkina Faso on February 26, and foreign ministers of Burkina Faso, Mali, and Guinea proposed a “Bamako-Conakry-Ouagadougou” strategic axis for enhanced cooperation a few weeks before the visit.
Welcoming this visit, WAPO said in a statement, “We recognize in it [the initiative] the undying spirit of Pan-Africanism that moved the founders of modern Africa even after three generations of neo-colonial repression.” WAPO also said that there was a need to unite “to create the capacity to defend our territories and interests.”
On February 18, Burkina Faso officially marked an end to France’s military presence on its territory while in 2022, French troops withdrew from Mali after a nearly decade-long deployment in the country.
France’s withdrawal from Mali and Burkina Faso took place in the aftermath of successive military coups since 2020, amid rising public unrest against France’s military presence even as armed conflict has expanded in the region.
“The anger in Mali, Burkina Faso, and Guinea is [also] a result of France establishing their regional economic policy. The reserves of the three countries [as well as many other Francophone countries] are kept in France. France also retains the right to confiscate their national financial reserves,” Kafui Kan-Senaya, the secretary-general of WAPO and the research secretary of the Socialist Movement of Ghana, told Peoples Dispatch.