In a significant geopolitical development, the military regimes of Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso have made an abrupt decision to withdraw from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). This announcement, made on Sunday, comes as a response to the suspension of these nations from the regional bloc, further escalating tensions in the already volatile Sahel region.
The leaders of Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso released a joint statement, emphasizing that their withdrawal from ECOWAS is a “sovereign decision” that will be executed without delay. The strained relations between these Sahel nations and ECOWAS intensified following recent coups in Niger (July 2023), Burkina Faso (2022), and Mali (2020). In response, ECOWAS imposed heavy sanctions and suspended all three countries, prompting them to unite in an “Alliance of Sahel States.”
Complicating matters, the withdrawal of French military forces from the Sahel region has raised concerns about the potential southward spread of conflicts to Gulf of Guinea states, including Ghana, Togo, Benin, and Ivory Coast.
Niger’s military regime expressed dissatisfaction with ECOWAS, criticizing the bloc for “bad faith” after a planned meeting in Niamey was largely shunned. Niger had hoped for a diplomatic opportunity to address differences with fellow ECOWAS member states. However, the cold-shouldering and economic sanctions, a consequence of the military coup that ousted elected President Mohamed Bazoum, have deepened the divide.
As Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso navigate their exit from ECOWAS, the regional geopolitical landscape faces increased complexity. Questions loom over the potential impact on stability in West Africa, with neighboring nations monitoring the situation closely.
Source: Punch NG
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