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  • Writer's pictureThe RYSE Team

SISTER Represented in an Internationalist Delegation to the Sahel


The delegation arrives into Mali's capital Bamako

The Delegation

From Saturday 9th until Tuesday the 19th of March, an international delegation led by the Pan-Afrikan Reparations Internationalist Standing Conference (PARISC) visited Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger, countries that make up the revolutionary new Alliance of Sahelian States (AES). This delegation will include two members of the Stroud community - Robin Ellis-Cockcroft and Gail Bradbrook. 


The delegation will visit the countries of the AES under the banner of Co-liberation for Planet Repairs. They will be focusing on the ongoing importance of the resurgence of colonised Afrikan people against the forces of neocolonialism for national self-determination, Pan-Afrikan sovereignty and a multipolar world of global justice.


Crucially, this is a peoples-to-peoples delegation, the delegates will be meeting with organisers on the ground, to build and secure internationalist solidarity with grassroots communities who are engaged in the fight for reparatory justice and asserting their right to self-determination.


“The impact of Afrika on my life is undeniable, and I am determined to make my voice heard. Thanks to the courage and bravery of the Alliance of the Sahel States, the renaissance of my dreams for an equitable world and my hope for global social justice has been reignited. It is all about people. We are grateful to them for restoring our dignity while we are still alive.”

  • Corinne Elle, PARISC Secretariat Member



The delegates, left to right: Kofi Maluwi Klu (Non-travelling member), Robin Ellis-Cockcroft, Aïcha Sow, Corinne J Elle, Gail Bradbrook, Kobina Amokwandoh

What is the AES?

Our media has been very quiet on the AES - you might’ve heard a little about coups in West Afrika over the last three years - but unless you’re particularly engaged with that area, you may not have heard about their departure from ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States), their alliance and the unfolding revolutionary possibilities in the region. So, for those that haven’t heard, over the last three years Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger have all undergone popular supported military coups. All three are ex-french colonial states, and until recently France maintained a high level of control in the region, through military and economic means. For example, a third of France’s lightbulbs are powered by Nigerien Uranium, the lights in Europe literally being kept on by exploitative labour from Niger. 


For more analysis of the historical factors of French colonial rule, I’d recommend this short article by Tricontinental. 


Mali

In August 2020, President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta was removed from power by a group of military officers. This followed months of unrest in Mali following irregularities in the March and April parliamentary elections and outrage against the kidnapping of opposition leader Soumaila Cissé. In 2021, a coup led by the Malian army installed Vice President Assimi Goïta, who was named the country’s transitional President by the constitutional court. It was then announced that new elections would be held in 2022.


In June 2021, hundreds of supporters of the M5 movement, one of the leading opposition groups in the 2020 protests, gathered in the Independence Square in Bamako to celebrate the anniversary of the group's founding. Its supporters also appeared to rally in support of the new military government. Goïta named Choguel Kokalla Maïga, a leader of the M5 movement and former government minister, as the interim prime minister of Mali's transitional government. In February 2022, they began the process of removing French troops from the country, to wide public support


On 7 June 2022, it was announced that the transition to democracy will be delayed for 2 years, with elections expected this year. In November 2022 Mali and Guinea, who also had a popular coup in 2021, signed multiple cooperation pacts, demonstrating the Pan-Afrikan unity need to repel the Global North natis' continued attempts are imperial plunder.


Burkina Faso

In January 2022, A year and a half after the first Malian coup, Burkina Faso’s President Kabore - a banker, educated in France, who welcomed French intervention - was deposed by the Patriotic Movement for Safeguard and Restoration, installing Colonel Damiba. Upon this, they were suspended from ECOWAS. In September 2022, Captain Ibrahim Traore was installed as interim president after Damiba’s failure to reclaim the territory taken by armed groups.


Burkinabe citizens supporting the coup attacked the French embassy in the capital Ouagadougou and a French cultural institute in Bobo-Dioulasso on the following day. In January 2023, the Patriotic Movement for Safeguard and Restoration military government told French forces to withdraw from Burkina Faso within a month. The French Military “officially” ended its operations in the country in February 2023, expelled by the people of Burkina Faso. Later in the same month, the junta withdrew from a military assistance agreement with France dating to 1961. They also have elections scheduled for this year. 


Niger

Most recently, in July 2023,  the National Council for the Safeguard of the Homeland overthrew the government of Niger, installing a new government with Abdourahamane (Omar) Tchiani as President. Tchiani said that he had deposed President Bazoum to avoid "the gradual and inevitable demise" of the country and accused him of covering up the country's situation. Tchiani has not given a timeline for a return to civilian rule yet.


As well as removing the French military from Niger, the interim government has also taken back control of their Uranium mines and are now charging France the market price for it - some in Stroud might remember the screening of Afrikan Apocalypse that was held at the SISTER Summer School  in September. If you haven’t seen it, it exposes the ongoing legacy of French colonialism in Niger and can be found here. Niger has since defaulted on $519m of Debt payments, joining Burkina Faso in moving to refuse to pay colonial debts. 


The Formation of the AES


Representatives of Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger at the formation of the Alliance of Sahel States. Photo: Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Mali

In September 2023, Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger announced a mutual defence pact - the Alliance of Sahelian States (AES), partially in response to threats of military intervention from both the African Union and ECOWAS. Since, it has been expanded and now the states are discussing starting its own currency, to move away from the Franc. The significance of this cannot be overstated - economic sovereignty is vital if the monopoly of the Global North is to be challenged, and it is one step closer to sovereignty over resources - an issue that, in a world of extractivist capitalism running havoc on every ecosystem, is needed more than ever. 


As part of their alliance, which was partially formed in response to threats of Military intervention in Niger from ECOWAS, the three countries made a sudden departure from the forum in late Janurary 2024.


It is currently too early to know exactly how the force of the AES will play out, but these have the potential to be truly revolutionary. They are backed by the people - 30,000 people came out in the streets of Niger’s capital city Niamey to support the coup. The movements to remove French troops from the region are welcomed by many, the decisive action on this speaking to a commitment to decolonisation that after years of governments that bought into French power, is a refreshing change. The importance of this possibly signally a new wave of decolonial movements, echoing those of the 60s and 70s in Afrika, is huge. We don’t know how this will turn out, and what kind of a power the AES will end up being. But for now, the revolutionary reality and potential are exciting, and we should be looking to them for leadership as we seek to strip the cancer of colonisation from the Earth. 


“Our predecessors Pan-Afrikan heroes and sheroes and allied justice fighters have paved the way for us. It is a privilege to participate in the real and total liberation of Afrikan nations through the leadership of the Alliance of the Sahel States.”

  • Aïcha Sow, PARISC Secretariat Member


How is this Relevant to Stroud and the UK?

These places of powerful people's resistance are vital for a Global movement for change. It might seem inconceivable to us here, given how futile many of our efforts for any positive change can feel, that a government can be taken by progressive forces and can institute real, concrete, decolonial change. But this is all the more reason for us to be looking for leadership from our siblings in the AES and across the colonised world where we can learn from their organisation in order to work for more power here. The time for trying to morally compel our governments is over, they have proven they do not care. We must take example from the AES, and grassroots movement globally, and work for power. 


In addition, our grassroots movements in the UK cannot succeed while our government continues to suppress our voices with such impunity. That is why wins towards Planet Repairs - the holistic process of earth repair (cognitive, reparatory and environmental justice) that will mean things like a decolonial education that equips us to solve the problems that we are facing now, a truly representative democracy, equal access to food and a climate no longer teetering on the edge of collapse - are relevant to Stroud. The AES is a win for these things because of its bold stance against neo-colonialism, its empowerment of youth forces and prioritisation of education for change.


States at the imperial core/Global North like the UK, gain our resources and power by extracting these things from states at the imperial periphery/Global South and so every time a protest is shut down here, the resource for the police comes stolen from colonised states. If we want our struggle here to win, then first the struggles of our siblings for sovereignty, self-determination and land justice must succeed, because otherwise our state will continue to repress us with an seemingly infinite supply of suppressive resources. 


And with increasing reports of the UK’s involvement in the deposition of other revolutionary Pan-Afrikan leaders, it is also our responsibility to hold our government to account. Moves like this disrupt the power dynamic that provides the UK and other countries of the Global North (In this case, primarily France) with resources and exploitable labour. Europe is already imposing sanctions on Mali and Niger.  Both the UK and the US have suspended aid to these state, proving again that the lives of the people of Afrika are only a political tool to them - as the people of the UK it is our responsibility to stand with the peoples of Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger, and against our government who would have them suffer for defying the imperial order. 


They use the feeling of entitlement granted by white supremacy and the massive power that comes from being part of the Global North bloc to exercise their will over colonised countries and communities. So as well as these countries being powerful examples of resistance for us, we must also be vigilant to our governments attempts to undermine and destroy them. Observing and remaining conscious of the situation on the ground, and being loud is one way to demonstrate that public opinion is with the countries of the AES. 


Zooming in closer, to why two Stroudies have attended this delegation. Both Gail and Robin have a long history of organisation and commitment to this struggle for sovereignty, and have been invited to attend on that basis. Stroud, for all it is at first glance a small town in rural England, is also one of the places where the fight for Climate Justice is playing out - with our council the first to adopt a Climate Emergency resolution and as the home to many activists. On the flip side, we are still majority dependent on globalised supply chains, and this gives us a stake in revolutions like this.


When the majority of our resources are based on exploitation, we must be prepared for when our siblings refuse this exploitation and take back their sovereignty. There will be a push from the right towards facism and protectionism that seeks to re-enslave our siblings - and we have to be prepared with political education, with alternative food systems and organised resistance to our government to stand in solidarity with our siblings, and to ensure that all people have their needs met.


This follows in the powerful legacy of internationalism - such as the London Recruits and their practical solidarity with the South African Struggle against Apartheid. Our communities are unaware of what we have lost through the recent decades of total Euro-Amerikkan monopoly, of how powerful internationalist organising used to be, especially in the 60s and 70s wave of decolonization. As SISTER we have had the honour of working with Elders, like Kofi Maluwi Klu, who can remember this, who can tell us about what we are missing - and can direct us to ways of organising that can revive these immensely powerful movements. This is the legacy that we are trying to step into, and we are hoping that our community wants to step into this with us. 


When the delegation gets back, we will have next steps on mobilising our community to engage in their fight for Planet Repairs, and in so doing, continue our fight for climate justice, grassroots democracy and a kinder world. So watch this space, because Stroud is becoming a sibling in the global family of resistance again. 


Co-liberation for Planet Repairs! - the banner and rallying cry for the delegation


Want to find out more? 

Link to African Apocalyse, a film on French colonisation of NIger and the ongoing effects that i it continues to have on the people: https://player.bfi.org.uk/rentals/film/watch-african-apocalypse-2020-online 

Article from Tricontinental about wider context of US military intervention in Afrika: https://thetricontinental.org/dossier-42-militarisation-africa/ 

For general news on Pan-Afrikanism, follow African Stream on all platforms: https://africanstream.media/ 



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