The military leaders of Burkina Faso, Niger, and Mali, are reportedly turning away from the regional bloc, the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas).

The three leaders, General Abdourahamane Tchiani of Niger, Col Assimi Goïta of Mali, and Capt Ibrahim Traoré of Burkina Faso, met for the first time in Niamey, the capital of Niger.

The three leaders, who all came to power through coups between 2020 and 2023 have formed the Alliance of Sahel States, which they say will be “far from the control of foreign powers. A community of peace, solidarity, prosperity based on our African values.”

At the meeting in Niamey Traoré said: “This continent has suffered and continues to suffer from the fire of the imperialists. These imperialists have only one cliché in mind: ‘Africa is the empire of slaves.’”

Tensions have been high between the three countries and Ecowas and this is likely to further strain relations in the region.