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Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso quit ECOWAS over sanctions

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The governments of Niger, Mali, and Burkina Faso on Sunday announced their immediate withdrawal from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

They cited the injustice of sanctions imposed by ECOWAS on each country in response to military juntas taking over.

The leaders of the three Sahel nations released a statement affirming that their decision to depart from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is a “sovereign decision” that will be implemented promptly.

It stated,

  • “After 49 years, the valiant peoples of Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger regretfully and with great disappointment observe that the (ECOWAS) organization has drifted from the ideals of its founding fathers and the spirit of Pan-Africanism.”
  • “The organization notably failed to assist these states in their existential fight against terrorism and insecurity,”

Facing jihadist violence and poverty, the governments have maintained strained relations with ECOWAS since coups occurred in Niger last July, Burkina Faso in 2022, and Mali in 2020.

All three nations were suspended from ECOWAS, with Niger and Mali enduring significant sanctions. In response, they have strengthened their stances in recent months, uniting under an “Alliance of Sahel States.”

Rise of military governments in Africa

  • Since 2020, there has been a surge in military coups across the continent, reminiscent of the upheavals experienced in the 1960s. To date, around seven coups have been recorded, affecting countries such as Guinea-Bissau, Gambia, Burkina Faso, Sao Tome, Cape Verde, and Angola, among others, totalling over half a dozen since 2020.
  • The military seizure of power in Niger last July appears to be the tipping point, prompting African leaders and international partners to condemn the coup and issue threats of employing force to reinstate constitutional order and President Bazoum’s government.
  • The leaders of Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso have been forming close ties with Russia which has seen its influence in the region grow tremendously following the West’s severing of ties with the military governments.
  • Russia’s Wagner forces have been seen fighting terrorism across the Sahel and Moscow has promised collaboration with these countries in areas of agriculture, security and energy.

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