Burkina Faso Seeks To Form ‘Federation’ With Mali To Boost Their Economic Strength
The Burkina Faso prime minister’s office, which visited neighboring Mali this week, suggested the two countries form a “Federation” to increase their economic clout.
Both countries are fighting jihadist insurgencies and are run by military councils that have distanced themselves from former colonial ruler France.
“We can create a flexible federation that is mutually reinforcing and respects the aspirations of both sides,” said Prime Minister Apollinaire Kyelem of Tambila, according to an official report on the visit released by his office on Thursday.
“Mali is a big producer of cotton, cattle and gold. Burkina Faso also produces cotton, cattle, and gold,” Kyelem from Tambila said during the trip on Tuesday and Wednesday.
“As long as we go our separate ways, we don’t have much influence. But when you add up the cotton, gold and livestock production of Mali and Burkina Faso, it becomes a power.”
Kyelem de Tambela referred to earlier efforts to create a federation in French-speaking West Africa – a stillborn attempt to bring together Mali, Senegal, Burkina Faso, and Benin shortly before independence from France in 1960.
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“Our ancestors tried to found groups like the Union of Mali, which unfortunately didn’t last. But they showed us the way,” he said.
“One of the reasons I went to Mali is that we have spent too long looking elsewhere for solutions, when too often they are right under our noses,” he continued.
The two landlocked Sahel countries are among the poorest and most volatile in the world and have seen some lulls since independence.
They are also fighting a brutal jihadist insurgency that has killed thousands, displaced more than two million from their homes and tricked the army into controlling the elected government.
Both countries fought off French forces, who were frustrated at their inability to put down the armed uprising.
Kyelem de Tambela praised the “real revolution” he says has taken place in Mali since Colonel Assimi Goita took power in 2020, saying it has “inspired” the new military rulers in Burkina Faso.
Burkina and Mali have experienced two military coups since 2020 and are under pressure from the international community to return to democratic civilian rule.
“Establishing a new federation must happen now before power returns to civilians, Kyelem de Tambela said, “because when the politicians come back, it will be difficult.”