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Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger withdraw from ECOWAS

West African nations of Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger have withdrawn their membership from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) The respective juntas of these countries made the announcement on Sunday, accusing the bloc of imposing “inhumane” sanctions in an attempt to reverse the coups that took place in their nations.

In a joint statement read out on state television across all three countries, the juntas expressed their decision to withdraw Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) based on their complete sovereignty. They alleged that the bloc has deviated from the principles of its founding fathers and pan-Africanism, despite nearly 50 years of its establishment. The statements further claimed that ECOWAS, influenced by foreign powers, has betrayed its founding principles and become a threat to its member states and populations. Instead of ensuring the happiness of its people, the bloc has moved away from its original ideals.

ECOWAS, considered the top political and regional authority in West Africa, was formed in 1975 with the aim of promoting economic integration among member states. However, in recent years, it has struggled to effectively address the issue of frequent coups in the region, leaving citizens feeling marginalized and unable to benefit from the region’s rich natural resources.

France, the former colonial power, has had its military ties severed by the three countries. The withdrawal of French troops from these nations was announced following the coups. The strained relationship between the three nations and ECOWAS can be traced back to the military power grabs that occurred in Mali in 2020 and 2021, Burkina Faso in 2022, and Niger in 2023.

The process of these countries’ withdrawal from ECOWAS remains unclear at this time. The bloc has not yet responded to inquiries from the Associated Press, although it has previously stated that it only recognizes democratic governments. Last year, the bloc’s regional court ruled that juntas do not have the authority to act on behalf of their nations in place of elected governments. Sunday’s announcement adds another layer of political tension to West Africa, following a series of events that have deepened the region’s instability since the recent string of coups.

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