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Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso withdraw from ECOWAS over suspension

Military juntas

The military regimes in Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger have announced their immediate withdrawal from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

The countries’ military regimes announced withdrawal from the regional bloc on Sunday, Jan. 28, in a joint statement read out on Niger national television.

The leaders of the three Sahel nations issued a statement saying it was a “sovereign decision” to leave the Economic Community of West African States “without delay”.

“After 49 years, the valiant peoples of Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger regretfully and with great disappointment observe that the (ECOWAS) organization has drifted from the ideals of its founding fathers and the spirit of Pan-Africanism,” Colonel Amadou Abdramane, Niger junta spokesman, said in the statement.

“The organization notably failed to assist these states in their existential fight against terrorism and insecurity,” Abdramane added.

The regimes have had tense ties with ECOWAS since coups took place in Niger in July 2023, Burkina Faso in 2022 and Mali in 2020.

Following the military coup in Niger last July, ECOWAS imposed sanctions on the country and threatened military action. All three were suspended from ECOWAS, with Niger and Mali facing heavy sanctions.

In September 2023, the three countries signed a mutual defence pact to assist one another against armed rebellion or external aggression. The charter – Alliance of Sahel States – binds the countries to assist one another – including militarily should there be an attack against one of them.

At the time, Mali’s military leader Assimi Goita said on his X social media account, “I have today signed with the Heads of State of Burkina Faso and Niger the Liptako-Gourma charter establishing the Alliance of Sahel States, with the aim of establishing a collective defence and mutual assistance framework.”

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