ECOWAS: Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso Leave the West African Bloc

Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso have announced they are leaving the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas).

Junta-led countries had already been suspended from the bloc, which was urging them to return to democratic rule.

Burkina Faso’s interim President Ibrahim Traore meeting Russia’s president Vladimir Putin in July 20.

The three governments said it was a “free decision” to withdraw from Ecowas.

They were also founding members of the camp, which was first established in 1975.

In a joint statement – which was read out on public television channels in all three countries – they said ECOWAS had “distanced itself from the ideals of its founding fathers and the spirit of Pan-Africanism”.

It goes on to say that Ecowas “under the influence of foreign powers has become a threat to member states and peoples through betrayal of its founding principles”, adding that the bloc has failed to assist them in combating jihadist violence in their countries help.

Relations between the groups and the three countries were strained after a coup took place in Niger in July.

Burkina Faso in 2022 and Mali in 2020. Ecowas has called on all three countries to return to civilian rule and in response to Sunday’s announcement states that the three countries are It is a “key member of the community” and the group “remains committed to finding a negotiated solution to end the political impasse.”

It also said it had not yet received official notification from countries about their withdrawal from the bloc.

According to the ECOWAS Treaty, member states wishing to withdraw must give written notice one year in advance, and must continue to comply with its provisions during that year.

This is despite the group being subject to suspensions, sanctions, negotiations and threats of military intervention.

But military leaders have a strong stance.

They accused the group of being influenced by outside forces.

The three countries have distanced themselves from former colonial power France, strengthened ties with Russia and in September formed a mutual defense pact called the Sahel Alliance.

All three military leaders have argued they want to restore security before holding elections as they struggle to fend off jihadist insurgents linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State.

Niger’s military leaders have said they want up to three years to transition to civilian rule.

Mali’s military government had promised to hold elections in February, but has now postponed them to an unknown date.

Meanwhile, Burkina Faso has set elections for this summer, but authorities say the fight against insurgents remains the top priority.

An ECOWAS delegation is scheduled to travel to Niamey to meet with Niger’s military junta on Thursday to discuss sanctions imposed on the country.

However, the plane that was meant to take the delegation there developed “technical problems” in Abuja and the meeting was postponed.

BBC

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