Mali – Burkina Faso: Goïta and Damiba met to discuss counter-terrorism cooperation

By Benjamin Roger
Posted on Friday, 9 September 2022 12:59

The Presidents of Burkina Faso and Mali in Bamako on 3 September © Presidency Mali

Mali’s transitional president Assimi Goïta received Lieutenant-Colonel Paul-Henri Damiba, his Burkinabe counterpart, for the first time on 3 September in Bamako. At the heart of their discussions was counter-terrorism cooperation between their two countries, which have been shaken by jihadist groups.

During his first official trip to Mali, Lieutenant-Colonel Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba made a round trip along the banks of the Niger River. Personally welcomed by Colonel Assimi Goïta at Modibo Keïta airport, he was accompanied by a small delegation, including two lieutenant-colonels, Yves-Didier Bamouni, commander of national theatre operations (COTN), and Mahamadi Bonkoungou, head of the National Intelligence Agency (ANR).

The two officers-turned-presidents then headed to the Koulouba Palace, where they had a working session with their teams and a tête-à-tête. They discussed strengthening military cooperation between their two countries, which share a nearly 1,200km long border that is attacked daily by jihadist groups.

Liaison officers

According to our information, Goïta and Damiba have, among other things, decided to appoint liaison officers in Bamako and Ouagadougou to facilitate operational cooperation between their armed forces. “The principle has been accepted, the terms remain to be defined,” said a Burkinabe source. The prospect of setting up joint operations, particularly along the Soum in Burkina Faso and the Dogon country in Mali, was also raised.

It remains to be seen whether the two leaders in fatigue have addressed the issue of their respective partnerships, notably the Malian transitional authorities’ decision to break with France in order to become closer to Russia, using the Russian private military company Wagner’s mercenaries as an intermediary. “Each one owns their decisions and respects those of the other”, says a person close to Damiba who, until now, has not adopted the same strategy.

Admiral Jean-Philippe Roland, French President Emmanuel Macron’s private chief of staff, is also expected in Ouagadougou at the end of the week to discuss issues of military cooperation with several senior Burkinabè officials.

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