ECOWAS condemns Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso for violating exit rules News
ECOWAS condemns Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso for violating exit rules

Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the West African regional political and economic union, said on Thursday that the military-led countries of Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso did not abide by the rules for leaving the bloc. At the same time, regional ministers met to discuss the departures, which jeopardize decades of integration.

The junta leaders of Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso released a joint statement on January 28 on national television announcing that they were withdrawing from ECOWAS. They accused ECOWAS of betraying its founding principles, endangering its member states, and exposing it to foreign influence. The three juntas also described the sanctions imposed by ECOWAS on the three countries after their military takeover as “illegal, illegitimate, inhumane, and irresponsible.”

ECOWAS responded on the same day that they had not yet received any direct formal notification from the three states of their intention to withdraw from the union. ECOWAS also noted that those countries remained important members of the community and that the ECOWAS Commission continued to follow developments.

According to Article 91 of the Revised Treaty of ECOWAS, any member state wishing to withdraw from the union must notify the executive secretary in writing one year in advance. For a period of one year, the state shall continue to comply with the provisions of the treaty and assume its obligations under the treaty.

President Omar AlieuTouray said:

The hasty decision to withdraw from ECOWAS does not take into account the conditions of withdrawal from ECOWAS as stipulated in the revised 1993 ECOWAS Treaty. But more importantly, the three member states have not really thought about the implications of this decision for their citizens.

In an extraordinary meeting of the Mediation and Security Council (MSC) on Thursday, the withdrawal of Niger, Burkina Faso and Mali from the union is discussed as well as the political situation in Senegal. Ambassador Yusuf Maitama Tuggar, Chairman of the PSC and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Nigeria, called the meeting crucial “to find answers to the challenges of these decisions.”

Military coups have taken place in MaliBurkina 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.”