ECOWAS urges Burkina Faso, Niger and Mali not to withdraw

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The West African regional bloc ECOWAS pushed junta-led Burkina Faso, Niger and Mali to reconsider their decision to quit the political and economic alliance, it said on Thursday, warning of the hardships the move would force on their citizens.

The three countries’ self-appointed military leaders jointly announced on January 28 they were abandoning the bloc after it pressured them to restore constitutional order following a string of coups.

Their departure threatens to further weaken ECOWAS, which has struggled to curtail a retreat of democracy in West Africa that started with a military takeover in Mali in 2020.

Its mediation and security council met in Nigeria’s capital Abuja to discuss the issue and an electoral crisis in Senegal, where the unprecedented postponement of a presidential vote has sparked public outcry and international alarm.

Regarding the withdrawal, council chairman Yusuf Maitama Tuggar said the juntas’ move “would bring more hardship and will do more harm to the common citizens of those three countries.”

“And that is why we continue to urge those three countries to remain. And ECOWAS is going to redouble its efforts towards diplomacy, towards dialogue, towards reconciliation,” he said after the closed-door meeting.

Before talks, ECOWAS Commission President Omar Touray described the juntas’ decision as hasty and said they had failed to abide by the rules for quitting the bloc.
Touray did not specify which withdrawal conditions had been ignored. Member states wishing to withdraw must give a written one-year notice.