Three West African nations — Niger, Mali, Burkina Faso dump ECOWAS — les by the military have left the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
The countries made their stands known in a joint press release broadcast on TV and shared online Sunday.
“Faced with this continuing situation, Their Excellencies, Captain Ibrahim Traoré, Colonel Assimi Goïta and Brigadier General Abdourahamane Tiani, respectively Heads of State of Burkina Faso, the Republic of Mali and the Republic of Niger, taking all their responsibilities in the face of history and responding to the expectations, concerns and aspirations of their populations, decide in complete sovereignty on the immediate withdrawal of Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger from the Economic Community of West African States,” the joint statement dated January 28 read.
Niger, Mali, Burkina Faso: A chronicle of coups and dreams of unity
The past three years have been a roller coaster ride for Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso, the three Saharan nations bound by geography, struggle, and now, a quest for unity.
2020: Mali witnessed two military coups in swift succession, plunging the already fragile democracy deeper into uncertainty. Jihadist activity intensified, and civilian casualties from attacks surged.
2021: Niger and Burkina Faso followed suit, experiencing their own coups in 2021. The entire region grappled with rising food insecurity and the COVID-19 pandemic, exacerbating existing vulnerabilities.
2022: Fractured Relations and Shifting Alliances
France Under Fire: Relations with former colonial power France deteriorated, with growing resentment of the French military presence in the region. Mali expelled French troops, seeking support from Russia.
Jihadists Remain a Threat: Despite sporadic military successes, jihadist groups continued to launch attacks and expand their influence, particularly in rural areas.
Sahel Security Alliance: An unprecedented move saw the three countries sign a mutual defense pact, the “Alliance of Sahel States,” aiming to combat threats collectively.
2023: Hope Amidst Continued Challenges
Dreams of Federation: The foreign ministers of the three nations proposed forming a confederation, eventually leading to a full-fledged federation, in a bold vision for regional unity and strength.
Regional Friction: Tensions simmered with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) over sanctions imposed on Mali and Burkina Faso following their coups. Niger’s coup further complicated the regional dynamics.
Now that the three nations have declared their intention to break away from the rest of the community in their bloc it is left to be seen if the can overcome their obstacles and forge a brighter future together.