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Mali, Burkina Faso Send In ‘Formal Notice’ Of Withdrawal From ECOWAS

Nigeria, who expressed sadness at the departure of these countries, said it remains open for engagement.

Mali and Burkina Faso have announced that they had sent the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) a “formal notice” of their withdrawal from the regional bloc, with Niger expected to follow.

The military regimes in the three countries had announced plans to withdraw from the West African bloc, accusing it of posing a threat to their sovereignty.

A report by France 24 said the foreign affairs ministry in Mali showed AFP a copy of the letter it sent to ECOWAS, while Burkina Faso’s official news agency reported it had sent an official notice.

No information emerged from Niger, but the statements from its two neighbours stressed the common character of their move.

ECOWAS said earlier, in a statement, that it was awaiting “formal and direct notification” from the countries. Under the bloc’s statutes, withdrawal cannot take effect for at least a year after official notification.

Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger Republic had announced their withdrawal from the regional economic bloc, alleging that the group’s decisions are now being influenced by foreign powers.

In a joint statement, the three countries, currently led by military juntas, accused the bloc of moving away from the ideals of the founding fathers, after nearly 50 years of its establishment.

Before the latest development, the 15 members of ECOWAS were Benin, Burkina Faso, Cabo Verde, Cote d’Ivoire, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Togo.

The main goal of ECOWAS is to promote economic cooperation among member states in order to raise living standards and promote economic development.

Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger were founding members of ECOWAS in 1975, but the regional group had imposed sanctions on them following military coups that overthrew elected civilian governments. 

The three countries, which formed Alliance of Sahel States (AES), said in their joint statement, Sunday, “After 49 years of existence, the valiant people of Burkina, Mali and Niger note with great regret, bitterness and great disappointment that their organisation has moved away from the ideals of its founding fathers and from Pan-Africanism.

“Furthermore, ECOWAS, under the influence of foreign powers, betraying its founding principles, has become a threat to its member states and its populations whose happiness it is supposed to ensure.”

Regional powerhouse, Nigeria, issued a statement late Monday expressing sadness over the three countries’ departure from the bloc, which it hosts.

“Nigeria stands with ECOWAS to emphasise due process and our shared commitment to protect and strengthen the rights and welfare of all citizens of member states,” a foreign ministry statement read.

It added that Nigeria had worked “in good faith to reach out to all members of the ECOWAS family to resolve the difficulties we face” but that it was “now clear” that not all members shared “the same good faith”.

The statement added, “Instead, unelected leaders engage in a public posturing to deny their people the sovereign right to make fundamental choices over their freedom of movement, freedom to trade and freedom to choose their own leaders.”

Nigeria said it remained “open for engagement” with Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger. It also appealed to the international community to continue to extend its support to ECOWAS and its vision of closer regional partnership, cooperation and integration.

Emmanuel Addeh 

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