Mali and Burkina Faso have officially communicated their decision to withdraw from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), with Niger anticipated to join them shortly.
This development follows the announcement by the military regimes of these countries to exit the regional bloc, citing concerns over threats to their sovereignty.
The Foreign Affairs Ministry of Mali shared with AFP a copy of its formal notice to ECOWAS, while Burkina Faso’s official news agency confirmed its own notification.
Niger has yet to release information, but the coordinated nature of the move was emphasized by the statements from Mali and Burkina Faso.
ECOWAS, in an earlier statement, indicated that it was awaiting “formal and direct notification” from the member countries.
According to the bloc’s statutes, withdrawal cannot take effect until at least a year after such notification.
The trio, founding members of ECOWAS since 1975, have faced sanctions from the regional group following military coups that displaced elected civilian governments.
The three countries, now part of an Alliance of Sahel States (AES), accused ECOWAS of falling under “the influence of foreign powers” and betraying its foundational principles, viewing it as a threat to member states.
Nigeria, a regional powerhouse and host of ECOWAS, expressed regret over the departure of the three countries.
In a statement released late Monday, Nigeria’s Foreign Ministry emphasized its commitment to due process and the rights and welfare of citizens in ECOWAS member states.
The statement criticized the actions of “unelected leaders” in Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger, accusing them of denying their citizens fundamental rights.
Despite these developments, Nigeria remains “open for engagement” with the departing countries and has called on the international community to continue supporting ECOWAS and its vision for regional partnership and integration.
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