"Deep regret"- African Union reacts to Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger's formal withdrawal notice to ECOWAS

Wednesday, January 31, 2024
 – The African Union has expressed “deep regret” over the decision by the military regimes in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger to withdraw from the West African bloc ECOWAS.

On Tuesday, January 30, Niger joined Burkina Faso and Mali to send ECOWAS official notification of its withdrawal from the West African bloc.

The three countries, which have sour relationships with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) since the coups, announced their decision in a joint statement on Sunday.

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

ECOWAS also left open a possible military intervention to re-establish constitutional order in Niger as a final option if needed.

The coups took place in Niger in July, Burkina Faso in 2022 and Mali in 2020.

Reacting to the news, Tuesday night, January 30, the AU said its commission president, Moussa Faki Mahamat, “calls on regional leaders to intensify the dialogue between the ECOWAS leadership and the three aforementioned countries”, which accused the West African bloc of posing a threat to their sovereignty.

The AU said that the African Union Commission was willing “to provide all the assistance in its power for the success of the logic of fraternal dialogue, far from all external interference from wherever they come”.

On Sunday, the trio- which have formed an Alliance of Sahel States (AES)-jointly said ECOWAS had come “under the influence of foreign powers, betraying its founding principles” and was a “threat to member states and peoples”.

The notification by the three states marks the start of a one-year period before withdrawal from the bloc takes effect. During that time, countries remain bound by their membership obligations, under the bloc’s statutes.

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