Niger, Mali, and Burkina Faso have officially announced their withdrawal from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). This decision comes after their suspension from the regional bloc due to military coups in each country.
The joint statement from the three nations cited a divergence from the founding principles of ECOWAS and the influence of foreign powers.
“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 statement read in part.
The West African trio further accused the bloc of failing to support them in combating jihadist violence.
Mali was first suspended in 2021 after experiencing two coups in a year, with ECOWAS insisting on a return to democracy. Burkina Faso followed in 2022 after a military coup ousted President Roch Kabore. Niger’s suspension came after a coup led by General Abdourahamane Tiani over claims of bad governance.
Despite ongoing negotiations and sanctions from ECOWAS, the military leaders of these countries have taken a firmer stance. They have distanced themselves from former colonial power France, sought closer ties with Russia, and formed a mutual defense pact known as The Alliance of Sahel States. Their primary focus remains on restoring security and combating jihadist insurgencies; timelines for a return to civilian rule remain uncertain.
ECOWAS, on its part, has expressed commitment to finding a negotiated solution. An ECOWAS delegation meeting was scheduled to happen in Niger but was postponed due to technical issues with the aeroplane.
Niger, Mali, and Burkina Faso’s recent move is seen as a mere formality, given that these countries were no longer ECOWAS members due to their suspensions.