Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger’s withdrawal from bloc ‘has no real basis’, wider implications: ECOWAS
The ECOWAS Commission is considering taking strategic steps toward resolving the issues surrounding Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger’s withdrawal from the sub-regional bloc.
President of the ECOWAS Commission, Omar Touray, disclosed this at a one-day Extraordinary Session of the Mediation and Security Council (MSC) at the ministerial level on Thursday in Abuja.
The meeting, which aimed to address issues that culminated in the recent decision by the three countries to withdraw from the bloc, also delved into Senegal’s pressing electoral situation and the need for regional cooperation.
The commission’s president explained that the separate official notifications by the three countries to withdraw from ECOWAS on January 29 had wider implications, which needed to be redressed.
He said, “To justify their action, the three countries outlined their grievances with ECOWAS, which include the perceived departure of ECOWAS from the pan-African ideals of its founding fathers.
“Perceived influence of hostile foreign powers on AfriECOWAS, a feeling of abandonment by ECOWAS in their fight against terrorism; and the imposition of illegal, illegitimate, inhumane and irresponsible sanctions by ECOWAS.
“These claims have no real basis; the hasty intent on withdrawal of membership from ECOWAS did not take into account the conditions for withdrawal of membership from ECOWAS.”
According to Mr Touray, such decisions were espoused in the 1993 ECOWAS Revised Treaty, but more importantly, the three-member states had not reflected 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 added.
He decried Senegalese President Macky Sall’s decision to repeal Decree 2023-2283 of November 29, 2023, while convening the county’s electoral body for the country’s February 25, 2024, presidential election, adding that it was of concern to the MSC.
According to him, this resulted in the postponement of the country’s presidential election, followed by the adoption of the National Assembly, saying such was against the resolution fixed for the December 15, 2024, poll.
“These developments have engendered crisis in the country and the sub-region; 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 consideration.
“This session of the MSC, therefore, invites you to critically examine the implications of the trio ECOWAS member-countries withdrawal,” he said.
Moussa Faki Mahamat, the African Union Commission (AUC) chairperson, represented by Bankole Adeoye, AUC’s Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security, called for urgent steps to tackle ECOWAS issues.
Mr Mahamat said, “This meeting is critical in our view, and we believe the extraordinary nature reflects the urgency to address these conflicting matters on our continent, particularly in West Africa.”
He cited some of the issues as terrorism, violence, extremism, and governance deficit, warning that the problems may undermine the region’s democratic gains if not addressed.
Mr Mahamat urged the Niger Republic, Mali and Burkina Faso to constantly dialogue with ECOWAS, adding that the bloc would ensure that security, democracy, good governance, and economic development would advance its lofty ideals.
Leonardo Simao, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS), decried the three countries’ withdrawal, noting that it would hinder engagement between ECOWAS and the member states.
He promised to work closely with the ECOWAS community to support national and regional efforts to ensure sustainable peace, security, and development within the sub-region.
Yusuf Tuggar, Nigeria’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and chairman of MSC lauded the collaboration among ECOWAS member states towards sub-regional success, saying it presented substantial opportunities for trade and investment.
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