Home » ECOWAS Denies Receiving Exit Notice from Three Sahel Nations

ECOWAS Denies Receiving Exit Notice from Three Sahel Nations

The regional organisation says it remains committed to finding a negotiated solution to the political impasse in the three countries

by Motoni Olodun

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has said it has not received any official notice of withdrawal from the regional bloc by Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger.

The three Sahel nations, which are currently under military rule after coups that toppled their civilian leaders, announced on Sunday that they were leaving ECOWAS with immediate effect.

They accused the organization of failing to assist them in their fight against terrorism and insecurity, and of drifting from the ideals of its founding fathers and the spirit of Pan-Africanism.

However, ECOWAS said in a statement on Sunday that it was only aware of the development through a statement broadcast on the national televisions of Mali and Niger.

“The Commission is yet to receive any direct formal notification from the three Member States about their intention to withdraw from the Community,” the statement said.

ECOWAS said it had been working assiduously with the countries for the restoration of constitutional order, as directed by the Authority of Heads of State and Government.

“Burkina Faso, Niger, and Mali remain important members of the Community and the Authority remains committed to finding a negotiated solution to the political impasse,” the statement added.

ECOWAS, which was founded in 1975 to promote economic integration and political cooperation among its 15 member states, has been facing a series of challenges in recent years.

The organization has been criticized for its slow and inconsistent response to the security crisis in the Sahel region, where Islamist militants have killed thousands of people and displaced millions more.

ECOWAS has also been accused of being too lenient with the military junta in Mali, which seized power in August 2020 and has repeatedly delayed the transition to civilian rule.

The bloc suspended Mali from its decision-making bodies after the coup but did not impose any sanctions or close its borders with the country.

The exit of the three Sahel nations, if confirmed, would be a major blow to the credibility and viability of ECOWAS, which relies on the contributions of its member states to fund its operations and programs.

Some analysts have warned that the move could also undermine the efforts to stabilize the region and foster regional integration.

However, others have expressed hope that the situation could be resolved through dialogue and diplomacy and that the three countries would reconsider their decision.

Dr. Kofi Annan, a former secretary-general of the United Nations and a native of Ghana, one of the founding members of ECOWAS, said he was saddened by the news of the withdrawal.

He urged the leaders of the three countries to engage with ECOWAS and the African Union to find a way forward that respects the principles of democracy and human rights.

“I believe that ECOWAS is a valuable instrument for peace and development in West Africa and that its members are stronger together than apart,” he said in a tweet on Sunday.

Source: Business Day

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