ECOWAS countries have imposed irrational and illegal sanctions that violate their own policies, the three countries argued in their conclusion in the report.
ECOWAS regretted and accommodated the withdrawal decision of the three countries. The association said Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso were “key members of the community”. ECOWAS is therefore ready to “find a negotiated solution to the deadlocked political situation”. According to ECOWAS, Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso have yet to formally announce their withdrawal.
A military coup took place in Niger on July 26, after which ECOWAS imposed sanctions and threatened military action. Neighboring countries Burkina Faso and Mali have already acted in favor of Niger. Both countries are ruled by the military after the government was overthrown and suspended from ECOWAS.
Three alliances since September
In September, the three governments came together to form the Alliance of Sahel States. The agreement makes it possible to provide mutual military assistance. It is about taking joint action against “terrorist groups” and securing the country's borders.
Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger are located in the Sahel region, on the southern edge of the Sahara, and have been plagued for years by Islamist terrorist groups, which have carried out bloody attacks against civilians and increasingly control the region. In the dispute, the three states distanced themselves from former colonial power France, which had earlier acted with military assistance.
In the West, there are also fears of growing Russian influence in these countries: Mali relied on Russian mercenaries from the Wagner group in the fight against terrorists, and after the death of their boss Yevgeny Prigozhin, Russian help was expected to be possible. Another private army followed.
Attempts at reconciliation failed
Relations between ECOWAS and the three military governments continue to deteriorate, despite several attempts to reintegrate the coup countries into the economic community. ECOWAS previously had 15 member states, making it one of the largest regional economic communities in Africa. Its objective is to promote economic cooperation among member countries in order to raise the standard of living.
A withdrawal would make foreign trade more difficult for Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso. In addition, they are now threatened by increased commodity prices and the reintroduction of visa requirements when traveling abroad.
Fear of wildfires
For a long time, Niger was considered a stabilizing pole in the region – and an ally of the West and especially Europe. After the coup, the situation in the region worsened. With seven coups already staged in West and Central Africa in the past three years alone, there is now a risk of further destabilization. The Sahel region, plagued by hunger and violence, is one of the poorest in the world. Thousands of people have died and millions have fled, including in Europe. Niger in particular is strategically and economically relevant to Europe, the US, China and Russia because of its key role in fighting Islamists in the region and its uranium and oil reserves.