Three West African nations, Niger, Mali, and Burkina Faso have announced their immediate departure from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) on Sunday, dealing a significant blow to the regional bloc’s integration efforts.
The decision comes amidst ongoing tensions over the military takeovers in these countries and ECOWAS’s insistence on a return to democratic governance.
In a joint statement broadcasted on national television in Niger, the junta leaders of the three states expressed their disappointment with ECOWAS’s handling of the situation, accusing the organization of straying from its founding principles and failing to adequately support their fight against terrorism and insecurity.
Since the military coups that led to their suspension from ECOWAS, negotiations and threats of intervention have failed to yield a clear timeline for the restoration of constitutional order. Instead, the junta leaders have grown increasingly defiant, severing ties with former colonial power France and seeking security support from Russia.
Colonel Amadou Abdramane, spokesperson for the Niger junta, lamented the departure, citing ECOWAS’s failure to assist the states in their struggle against terrorism.
“After 49 years, the valiant peoples of Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger regretfully and with great disappointment observe that the (ECOWAS) organization has drifted from the ideals of its founding fathers and the spirit of Pan-Africanism”.
“The organization notably failed to assist these states in their existential fight against terrorism and insecurity,” Abdramane added.
It is unclear for now how the decision by juntas in Niger, Burkina Faso and Mali will impact the 15-member regional bloc where goods and citizens move freely.
According to the bloc’s treaty, member states wishing to withdraw must give a written one-year notice. It is unclear for now if the three states have done so. The treaty say they must continue to abide by its provisions during the year-long period. The three countries are also members of the eight-nation West African Monetary Union (UEMOA) that uses the West Africa CFA franc currency pegged to the Euro.
Read below the full details of the statement: