Military regimes in Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso have announced their exit from the West African reginal bloc, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
The leaders of the three Sahel nations – Ibrahim Traoré of Burkina Faso, Mali’s military leader Colonel Assimi Goita and Niger’s General Abdourahmane Tchiani -issued a joint statement saying it was a “sovereign decision” to leave the ECOWAS “without delay”.
All three nations, who were founding members of the ECOWAS in 1975, had series of coups which ushered military juntas in each country. ECOWAS condemned the coups and suspended the three states with Niger and Mali facing heavy sanctions.
The bloc also advocated for a return to civilian governments with elections.
The trio condemned the sanctions by the bloc and described them saying they were an “irrational and unacceptable posture” at a time when the three “have decided to take their destiny in hand” — referring to the coups that removed civilian administrations.
The joint statement highlighted that the 15-member ECOWAS, “under the influence of foreign powers, betraying its founding principles, has become a threat to member states and peoples”.
They accused the bloc of failing to help them tackle the jihadists who swept into Mali from 2012 and then on to Burkina and Niger.
Leaving ECOWAS Holds Economic Consequences
Exiting ECOWAS could mean more than just a joint statement from the three Sahel nations. Not enjoying the cooperation of neighboring states come with distressing consequences and could reflect on their respective economies.
Exiting the regional bloc could make trade more difficult for the three land-locked nations, resulting in inflation and could attract visa restrictions from ECOWAS member states.