(Ecofin Agency) - Captain Ibrahim Traoré, the man leading Burkina Faso since the September 2022 coup, suggested in a recent interview with Cameroonian journalist Alain Foka that his country might soon abandon the CFA franc as part of an effort to "break all ties that keep it in slavery."
Recently, the country, along with peers Mali and Niger, has announced an immediate exit from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). Suggesting that more changes may occur, the junta leader stated, "Let things unfold. Perhaps everything we've done has surprised you, hasn't it? More changes might still surprise you. And it's not just about currency. We will break all ties that keep us in slavery." Captain Traoré also clarified that Burkina Faso has no plans to rejoin ECOWAS. "Our move is irreversible. ECOWAS is done," he said during the interview.
Indeed, critics view the CFA franc, backed by the French Treasury, as a colonial legacy, while proponents argue it has brought undeniable financial stability to the region.
To justify their exit from the community, the three countries, now collectively known as the Alliance of Sahel States (ASS), accuse the regional organization of not assisting them against jihadists and deviating from the ideals of its founding fathers and pan-Africanism. They signed a charter envisioning the establishment of a "collective defense and mutual assistance" framework in the face of rebellion or external aggression.
The "Liptako-Gourma" charter, named after the "three borders" region where the jihadist threat is concentrated in the Sahel, is a direct response to ECOWAS's military intervention threat against Niger following the July 26, 2023 coup. The regional organization imposed severe economic sanctions on Niger on July 30 and threatened the use of force if the military regime did not restore President Bazoum to power.
The Alliance of Sahel States (ASS) held its inaugural ministerial summit on November 25, 2023, in the Malian capital, and 18 recommendations were adopted to lay the foundations for genuine integration within the new alliance. These include improving the free movement of goods and people, establishing a food security mechanism, and formulating a common industrialization strategy.
A joint statement issued at the end of the summit also recommended the formation of an expert committee to explore the possibility of an economic and monetary union, as well as the creation of a common stabilization fund and investment bank. Foreign ministers of the three Sahelian states also proposed the establishment of a confederation.