West Africa: Ecowas Ministers Meet Over Mali, Niger, Burkina-Faso Exit

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Commission on Thursday convened an Extraordinary Session of its Mediation and Security Council (MSC) at the ministerial level over the decision of Mali, Burkina-Faso and Niger Republic to leave the community.

The session also discussed the current political situation in Senegal where President Macky Sall postponed the presidential election earlier scheduled for late February 2024.

Three member States – Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger – had announced their withdrawal from ECOWAS “with immediate effect” through a joint communiqué signed by representatives of all three countries on 28th January 2024.

To justify their action, the three countries outlined their grievances with ECOWAS which include a perceived departure of ECOWAS from the “pan-African ideals of its founding fathers”; a perceived influence of hostile foreign powers on ECOWAS; a feeling of abandonment by ECOWAS in their fight against terrorism; and the imposition of “illegal, illegitimate, inhumane and irresponsible” sanctions by ECOWAS.

Speaking at the opening ceremony of the session, the President of the ECOWAS Commission, Dr Omar Alieu Touray, said these claims have no real basis, adding that the hasty decision to withdraw from membership of ECOWAS did not take into account the conditions for withdrawal of membership from ECOWAS, as espoused in the 1993 ECOWAS Revised Treaty.

He also lamented that the three Member States have not reflected on the implications of this decision on the citizens.

“We have therefore prepared two Memoranda on this issue for your consideration, including an analysis of the wider implications of the withdrawal for the concerned Member States and the Community at large,” he told the session.

While speaking about the situation in Senegal, he noted that the National Assembly’s resolution which fixed the Presidential election for 15th December 2024 and also extended the tenure of President Sall, had engendered crisis in the country and the sub-region.

“Excellencies these unfolding events in the region are posing threats to peace and political stability in our Community. Consequently, an additional Memorandum has been prepared on the situation in Senegal for your Excellencies’ consideration,” Dr Touray added.

Declaring the session open, Nigeria’s Minister of Foreign Affairs who is the chairman of the MSC, Amb. Yusuf Tuggar, said in pursuit of solutions, “We must remain committed to the principles of democratic governance and safeguarding the right of our people to freely elect their leaders.”

“Allow me to emphasize that during this meeting, we will receive a presentation from the ECOWAS Commission on the situation in the three Sahel countries as well as the postponement of Presidential elections in Senegal.

“Consequently, as we embark on these vital deliberations, it is imperative that we strive to formulate actionable recommendations crucial in guiding our collective response to the state of affairs in the region,” he stressed.

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