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ECOWAS Engages Mediators To Reintegrate Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso

It said it will be difficult to deal with the bloc”s challenges without the three members.

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has disclosed that arrangements are in place to resolve differences with Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger by enlisting the help of third-party mediators.

The regional body had recently lifted sanctions imposed on the three junta-led nations, citing “humanitarian considerations” among other reasons.

ECOWAS had also called on the countries to return to the regional bloc.

Speaking on the development on Friday, ECOWAS Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security, Abdel-Fatau Musah, said there is a need to deploy additional measures to encourage them to remain in the bloc.

“There are various engagements also going on, not only by ECOWAS but by third parties and all that for all of us to find common ground with these countries.

“We are just waiting for the three member states, who I must repeat, are all important members of ECOWAS.

“And without them, it is going to be more difficult to deal with many of the challenges facing the region.

 “You know, terrorism, the whole issue of the Sahel, what is happening there, and our collective goal in terms of free movement of people and all that.

“With the sanctions that were imposed, we saw the indirect impact of them on ordinary people who trade across borders,” Musah explained.

The ECOWAS commissioner also expressed fears over the threat of transnational terrorism, saying it poses a “clear and present danger” to member countries.

 “Initially confined to certain countries in the Sahel (Mali and Niger) and the Lake Chad Basin (Nigeria), terrorist attacks have multiplied and spread to other countries (Burkina Faso and Mali) and are now a real threat to coastal countries (Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana and Togo),” Musah said.

“The number of fatalities, those maimed, displaced, and those who have lost livelihoods and educational opportunities has been the subject of conflicting figures.

“Yet all the figures are indicative of the pain and suffering that insecurity continues to inflict on the people, particularly in the Sahelian member states,” he added.

Musah said in 2023, more than 3,500 incidents of terror attacks were recorded in the ECOWAS region.

The ECOWAS commissioner said the sub-regional bloc had taken measures to curb acts of terror.

“As ECOWAS, our proposal is to integrate the various initiatives into the regional plan of action and use them as specialised operational tools of the regional mechanism,” he said.

Michael Olugbode

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