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Stroud represented in delegation sent to the Sahel

Two Stroud residents are joining an international delegation led by the Pan-Afrikan Reparations Internationalist Standing Conference (PARISC) to visit Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger this week.
Stroud represented in delegation sent to the Sahel

By Roma Robinson, writing on behalf of SISTER

FROM SATURDAY 9th until Tuesday 19th March, an international delegation led by the Pan-Afrikan Reparations Internationalist Standing Conference (PARISC) are going to 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.

Corinne Elle, Secretariat Member said:

“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.”

What is the AES?

Our media has been very quiet about the AES - you might have 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 possibilities in the region.

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 Nigerian 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.

No Military Intervention against Niger
Military coups in Niger and other Sahel countries represent broad, discarded sections of the population. Now, France and other Western countries are pushing for a military intervention in Niger, however, the people cry ‘La France, dégage!’ (‘France, get out!’).


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

Withdrawal of French troops from Mali is a historic, anti-imperialist victory : Peoples Dispatch
Mass-demonstrations calling for removal of French troops from Mali have been growing since 2020. In this backdrop, Mali’s transitional government has adopted an increasingly defiant posture vis-a-vis France.

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 power of unity in the face of the rich Global North.

Burkina Faso, Guinea, and Mali propose strategic axis amid French military ouster : Peoples Dispatch
The three West African countries, all of whom have recently undergone military coups amid rising public anger against France, have agreed to a Bamako-Conakry -Ouagadougou axis, with enhanced cooperation on matters ranging from trade to the fight against insecurity

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. 


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 did not give a timeline for a return to civilian rule.

“The West’s domination... is coming to an end” says leader of Niger’s Revolutionary Organization for New Democracy : Peoples Dispatch
Peoples Dispatch spoke with Sani Adamou to discuss the recent coups which he claims are expressions of widespread discontent

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 rented from the British Film Institute.

Watch African Apocalypse - BFI Player
Rob Lemkin’s harrowing yet urgent documentary shines a lens on the trauma and legacy of colonialism in one of Africa’s poorest nations, Niger.

Niger has since defaulted on $519m of Debt payments, joining Burkina Faso in moving to refuse to pay colonial debts. 


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 then it has been expanded and now the states are discussing starting their own currency, to move away from the Franc.

Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso establish Sahel security alliance
The Sahel nations sign pact that will allow them to cooperate against threats of armed rebellion or external aggression.

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 signalling 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. 

Aicha Sow, PARISC Secretariat Member said:

“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.

“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.”

Why is this relevant to Stroud?

These pockets of 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.

There is all the more reason for us to be watching what happens closely and educating ourselves - we can learn so much 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 the example from the AES, and grassroots movements there, 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 all relevant to Stroud.

The AES is a win for all of these things because of its bold stance against neo-colonialism, its empowerment of youth and its prioritisation of education for change.

States at the imperial core/Global North like the UK, gain their resources and power through aggressive extraction from states at the imperial periphery/Global South and so every time a protest is shut down here, we have to understand how state power is being resourced through 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

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 own government to account.

Top Secret Document Exposes UK Role in Ghana Coup
The UK Foreign Office conducted a covert propaganda campaign to help remove Ghana’s president Kwame Nkrumah in 1966, declassified files show.

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 states, 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 in solidarity with the peoples of Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger, and against our own government who would have them suffer for defying the imperial order.  

The protection and entitlement granted by white supremacy and the massive power that comes from being part of the Global North bloc allows nations like ours to exercise their will over colonised countries.

We can look to the powerful examples of resistance of these countries and we must also be vigilant to our government's 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

As 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 that 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 - the birthplace of environmental movements like XR and the home to many activists, with a long and proud history of rebellion.

As a nation, 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 the time when our siblings refuse this exploitation and take back their own sovereignty.

We are already bearing witness to a push from the right towards fascism 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 needs are being 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 decades of American monopoly, of how powerful internationalist organising used to be, especially in the 60s and 70s wave of decolonization.

As SISTER (Stroud in Internationalist Solidarity, Together for Earth Repair), we have had the honour of working with elders who can remember all 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 know that our wider community wants to step into this with us. 

The amazing story of young, white, non-South African people who went on secret missions to South Africa to help overthrow the apartheid regime.

When the delegation gets back, we will have next steps on mobilising our community to engage in their fight for reparatory justice, and in so doing, continue our fight for climate justice, grassroots democracy and a kinder world. Stroud will be a sibling in solidarity with the global family of resistance once again. 

Find out more

Watch African Apocalyse, a film on French colonisation of Niger and the ongoing effect that it continues to have on the people

Watch African Apocalypse - BFI Player
Rob Lemkin’s harrowing yet urgent documentary shines a lens on the trauma and legacy of colonialism in one of Africa’s poorest nations, Niger.

Tricontinental article discussing the wider context of US military intervention in Afrika

Defending Our Sovereignty: US Military Bases in Africa and the Future of African Unity
Dossier no. 42 Co-publication with The Socialist Movement of Ghana’s Research Group How do you visualise the footprint of Empire? The images in this dossier map some of AFRICOM’s military bases on the African continent – both ‘enduring’ and ‘non-enduring’, as they are officially called. The satellite photos were gathered by data artist Josh […]

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