ABUJA, Nigeria (AP) — The West African countries of Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger have withdrawn from the regional economic market. bloc known as ECOWAS, their respective juntas announced on Sunday. They accused the bloc of “inhumane” sanctions to quash coups in their countries.
ECOWAS said in a statement that it had not been informed of the countries’ decision to withdraw.
The juntas said in a joint statement read on state television in the three countries that they had “decided in full sovereignty on the immediate withdrawal of Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger from the Economic Community of African States of West (ECOWAS)”, alleging that the bloc has “distanced itself from the ideals of its founding fathers and Pan-Africanism” after almost 50 years of existence.
“In addition, ECOWAS, under the influence of foreign powers, betraying its founding principles, has become a threat to its member states and its populations whose happiness it is supposed to ensure,” they can read in their declarations.
ECOWAS said in a statement that it had not been informed of the countries’ decision to leave the bloc. Its protocol provides that withdrawal takes up to a year to complete.
“Burkina Faso, Niger and Mali remain important members of the Community and the Authority remains determined to find a negotiated solution to the political impasse,” the statement said.
Widely considered West Africa’s highest political and regional authority, the 15-nation ECOWAS bloc – formed in 1975 to “promote economic integration” in member states – has struggled in recent years. years of going backwards. unrestrained coups in a region where citizens complain of not benefiting from rich natural resources.
In parts of West Africa, ECOWAS is rapidly losing its effectiveness and the support of citizens, who see it as representing only the interests of the leaders and not those of the masses, said Oge Onubogu, Africa program director. the Wilson agency, based in Washington. Center Think Tank.
Sunday’s announcement is the latest twist in a series of events that have heightened political tensions in West Africa since it began this is the latest in a series of coups — in Niger — last year. It also comes as the three nations have formed a security alliance After sever military ties with France and other European countries and looking to Russia for support.
The joint statement accuses ECOWAS of failing to help these three countries combat “existential” threats like terrorism – the reason commonly given by their armies for removing their democratically elected governments.
“When these States decided to take their destiny into their own hands, it (ECOWAS) adopted an irrational and unacceptable posture by imposing illegal, illegitimate, inhumane and irresponsible sanctions in violation of its own texts,” notes the press release.
Rather than improving their situation, the juntas declared that ECOWAS sanctions had “further weakened populations already scarred by years of violence”.
Last week’s botched meeting between Niger and ECOWAS – which said its delegation could not travel to Niger due to a flight problem – was seen by Niger’s junta as an opportunity to blame the bloc for the way he responded to the coup, according to Cheta Nwanze. , analyst at the geopolitical research company SBM Intelligence, based in Lagos.
“This withdrawal looks like an even further waning influence of West Africa’s two traditional superpowers – France and Nigeria,” Nwanze said.