Junta-led Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso to withdraw from ECOWAS News
Vincent van Zeijst, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Junta-led Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso to withdraw from ECOWAS

The junta leaders of Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso released a joint statement Sunday on national television saying they were quitting the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

The joint statement accused ECOWAS of betraying its founding principles, posing a threat to its member states and being influenced by foreign powers. Referring to the sanctions imposed by the ECOWAS on the three West African countries since their military takeovers as “illegal, illegitimate, inhumane and irresponsible,” the junta leaders announced the immediate withdrawal of Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger from ECOWAS.

ECOWAS responded on Sunday that it had not yet received any formal notification of the three countries’ withdrawal and that they remained “important members of the Community.” ECOWAS also stated it will “remain seized with the development” and “make further pronouncements as the situation evolves.”

ECOWAS is a regional economic cooperation bloc established by 15 West African countries in 1975. Burkina Faso, Niger and Mali are all founding members of the organization. According to Article 91 of the Revised Treaty of ECOWAS, any member state wishing to withdraw from the community shall give the Executive Secretary one year’s written notice. During the one year, the member state shall continue to comply with the provisions and be bound by the obligations under the Treaty.

Military coups have taken place in Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger, where elected governments were overthrown by military juntas, who then proclaimed to be the new leader of the respective countries. Since the military coups, ECOWAS has been calling on all three countries to return to constitutional orders and has imposed economic sanctions on them. In August 2023, ECOWAS rejected a proposal by Niger’s military junta to hold elections within three years. The juntas have called ECOWAS’ posture in the political conflicts “irrational and unacceptable.”