Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso have announced their immediate withdrawal from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
The leaders of the three Sahel nations on Sunday issued a statement saying it was a “sovereign decision” to leave the ECOWAS “without delay”.
In the joint statement read on state television, they said they have “decided in complete sovereignty on the immediate withdrawal of Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), alleging that the bloc has “moved away from the ideals of its founding fathers and pan-Africanism” after nearly 50 years of its establishment.
“Furthermore, 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.”
The announcement is the latest development following a series of efforts by the regional bloc to return the countries to civilian rule.
Struggling with jihadist violence and poverty, the regimes have had tense ties with ECOWAS since coups took place in Niger last July, Burkina Faso in 2022 and Mali in 2020.
All three were suspended from ECOWAS, with Niger and Mali facing heavy sanctions.
They have hardened their positions in recent months and joined forces in an “Alliance of Sahel States”.
A French military withdrawal from the Sahel the region along the Sahara desert across Africa has heightened concerns over the conflicts spreading southward to the Gulf of Guinea states Ghana, Togo, Benin, and Ivory Coast.
The prime minister appointed by Niger’s military regime on Thursday blasted ECOWAS for “bad faith” after the bloc largely shunned a planned meeting in Niamey.
Niger had hoped for an opportunity to talk through differences with fellow states of ECOWAS, which has cold-shouldered Niamey, imposing heavy economic and financial sanctions following the military coup that overthrew elected President Mohamed Bazoum.