Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger Announce Withdrawal from ECOWAS
In a surprising move, Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger have collectively declared their withdrawal from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), sparking concerns about the future of regional cooperation in West Africa. The decision, described as a “sovereign choice,” was announced by the military leaders currently in power in the three Sahel nations.
Colonel Amadou Abdramane, spokesperson for the Niger junta, expressed disappointment with ECOWAS, stating that the organization has deviated from the ideals of its founders and the spirit of Pan-Africanism after 49 years. The countries of Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger, all led by military regimes, were previously suspended from ECOWAS following coups, leading to strained relations between the nations and the regional bloc.
The withdrawal comes amid geopolitical tensions, shifting alliances, and accusations that ECOWAS failed to support the three nations in their fight against terrorism and insecurity. Last year, the countries withdrew from the G5 international force, established to combat Islamist threats in the Sahel region, forming their own Alliance of Sahel States (AES).
The deteriorating relationship between the military-led governments and ECOWAS reached a point where the nations decided to sever ties with the regional organization. The withdrawal raises questions about the impact on regional stability and collaborative efforts in addressing shared challenges, particularly in the fight against terrorism and the restoration of civilian rule.
At a summit in Abuja last December, West African leaders called for a swift transition to civilian rule in Niger following the coup that ousted President Mohamed Bazoum in July 2023. The junta in Niger proposed a three-year timeline for the return to civilian rule, adding to the complexities surrounding the political landscape in the region.