“Deep regret”- African Union reacts to Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger’s formal withdrawal notice to ECOWAS

January 31st, 2024

The decision by the military administrations in Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger to leave the West African bloc ECOWAS has been met with “deep regret” by the African Union.

Along with Burkina Faso and Mali, Niger officially notified ECOWAS of its departure from the West African organization on Tuesday, January 30.

Following the coups, the three nations’ relations with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) have soured. They made their announcement in a joint statement on Sunday.

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In 1975, Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger became founding members of ECOWAS. However, when military coups toppled elected civilian administrations in each country, the bloc suspended the three countries and imposed sanctions on them.

As a last resort, ECOWAS also left open the possibility of military involvement to restore constitutional order in Niger.

The coups occurred in 2020 in Mali, July in Niger, and July in Burkina Faso.

In response to the news on Tuesday, January 30, the African Union (AU) said that Moussa Faki Mahamat, the president of its commission, “calls on regional leaders to intensify the dialogue between the ECOWAS leadership and the three aforementioned countries,” accusing the West African bloc of endangering their sovereignty.

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“To provide all the assistance in its power for the success of the logic of fraternal dialogue, far from all external interference from wherever they come,” the African Union Commission declared.

Together, the three announced on Sunday that ECOWAS was a “threat to member states and peoples” and that it had fallen “under the influence of foreign powers, betraying its founding principles.” They also founded the Alliance of Sahel nations (AES).

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The three states’ notification initiates a one-year countdown until their resignation from the bloc becomes official. According to the bloc’s statutes, nations are still obligated to fulfill their membership requirements at that time.


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