Tension in ECOWAS as three members exit

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Deep cracks have begun to form within the West African regional bloc, ECOWAS, after three of its members announced their exit. Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger accuse ECOWAS of being influenced by Western powers and not helping in the fight against terrorists in their regions.

But ECOWAS says it is taking steps to repair the strained relations. The withdrawal of Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger from the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, comes amid severe tension with the regional bloc.

ECOWAS had imposed economic sanctions and suspended the three countries from the organisation after a series of military power grabs. It said sanctions would only be lifted when the countries return to civilian rule.

But the junta leaders have been resolute in holding on to power. They have also formed strong ties with Russia after distancing themselves from their former colonial power, France.

ECOWAS has been struggling to deal with military coups within the region as well as attacks by terrorists. Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger have accused ECOWAS of failing to tackle insurgencies in the Sahel region – which is why they decided to form an alliance to defend themselves against jihadist groups linked to Al-Qaeda.

Meanwhile, ECOWAS says it has not received an official notice about the breakaway of the three countries from the regional bloc. But it says it hopes to work with them to resolve the impasse.