Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger have jointly declared their immediate withdrawal from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). The three nations expressed deep dissatisfaction, accusing ECOWAS of straying from its intended purpose and asserting that the organization’s actions no longer align with their interests.
In a joint press statement released on Sunday, January 28, the three nations lamented the deviation of ECOWAS from the ideals envisioned by its founding fathers and the spirit of Pan-Africanism. “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,” excerpts from the statement read.
This decision comes on the heels of the suspension of Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger by ECOWAS due to coups within their borders and their failure to comply with directives to restore civilian rule. Remarkably, rather than acquiesce to their suspension, these nations have opted to outright reject ECOWAS membership, signaling a clear defiance of the regional body’s actions.
One of the key grievances outlined in the joint statement is the perceived lack of assistance from ECOWAS in the face of the existential fight against terrorism and insecurity. The three nations accuse the organization of adopting an irrational and unacceptable posture by imposing what they describe as illegal, illegitimate, inhumane, and irresponsible sanctions. These actions, they claim, further weakened populations already bruised by years of violence inflicted by instrumentalized and remote-controlled terrorist hordes.
The recent withdrawal decision is a culmination of a series of events, including the suspension of these nations by ECOWAS. In a summit held in Abuja, Nigeria, in December 2023, West African leaders called for a “short” transitional period towards civilian rule in Niger to consider easing economic sanctions imposed on the country. These sanctions were a response to the ousting of Niger’s President Mohamed Bazoum in a coup in July 2023, with the junta announcing a three-year timeline for the return to civilian rule.
Mali experienced civilian rule disruptions through two coups, the first in August 2020, while Burkina Faso witnessed the overthrow of its elected government in 2022. The decision by these three West African nations to sever ties with ECOWAS underscores their dissatisfaction with the regional body’s actions and its perceived deviation from its founding purpose.