Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger pull out of regional bloc ECOWAS

Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger announced Sunday January 28 their withdrawal from the regional organization the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) that they blame for “deviation from its founding ideals”.

The three countries took the Nigeria-based organization by surprise amid improving relations between the two sides. The three countries cited multiple grievances, including ECOWAS’ “lack of concrete support in the fight against terrorism” and the imposition of sanctions on Mali’s military rulers.

They claim that ECOWAS has strayed from its original goals of “economic development, social progress and cultural integration” and is now being “manipulated by external forces.”

Ties between the 1975-established regional organization and the three countries have deteriorated since military power takeovers respectively in Mali in August 2020, Burkina Faso in January 2022 and in Niger in July 2023.

The Abuja-based organization slapped sanctions on the countries in a move to end military rules but the measures failed yield expected results.
In reaction to the withdrawal announcement, the ECOWAS said it has not yet received any direct formal notification about their intention to withdraw from the bloc.

“The ECOWAS Commission as directed by the authority of the Heads of State and Government has been working assiduously with these countries for the restoration of constitutional order”, it said.

“Burkina Faso, Niger, and Mali remain important members of the community and the authority remains committed to finding a negotiated solution to the political impasse.”