"Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger Withdraw from ECOWAS, Citing 'Inhumane' Sanctions"

The military juntas of Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger jointly announced their immediate withdrawal from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) on Sunday. They accused the regional economic bloc of imposing inhumane sanctions aimed at reversing recent coups in their respective countries.

In a statement broadcast on state television across all three nations, the juntas asserted that their decision to withdraw was made independently, claiming that ECOWAS had strayed from the ideals of its founding fathers and pan-Africanism after nearly 50 years of existence. They argued that ECOWAS, influenced by foreign powers, had become a threat to its member states and their populations.

ECOWAS, established in 1975 to promote economic integration among member states, is considered the top political and regional authority in West Africa. However, the bloc has faced challenges in recent years as it addresses coup incidents in the region and seeks to ensure the fair distribution of natural resources.

The juntas did not provide details on how the withdrawal process would unfold, and ECOWAS has not issued a response at this time. The regional bloc, which recognizes only democratic governments, has previously faced challenges to its authority, with its regional court ruling last year that juntas lack the power to act on behalf of their nations in place of elected governments.

This announcement follows a series of events that have heightened political tensions in West Africa, including a coup in Niger last year. The three nations—Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger—have recently formed a security alliance and severed military ties with France and other European nations, turning to Russia for support.

The joint statement criticized ECOWAS for failing to assist the countries in addressing “existential” threats like terrorism, a common reason cited by their militaries for the coups. The juntas argued that instead of improving their situations, ECOWAS sanctions have further weakened populations already affected by years of violence. This development adds a new layer of complexity to the evolving political landscape in West Africa.

Piers Potter


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