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West Africa and Sahel

ECOWAS seeks settlement with Mali, Burkina Faso

The Commission of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has called for strategic measures to amicably resolve issues about the withdrawal by Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger from the sub-regional bloc.

Dr Omar Touray, President of the ECOWAS Commission, said at the one-day Extraordinary Session of the Mediation and Security Council (MSC) at the Ministerial Level on Thursday in Abuja.

The meeting focused on tackling recent withdrawal decision by Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger from the bloc, delve into pressing electoral situation in Senegal, emphasising the need for regional cooperation.

According to him, their discussion is based on intent of the official separate notifications by the three countries to withdraw from ECOWAS on January 29 and the wider implications of their withdrawal.

Touray said: “To justify their action the three countries outlined their grievances with ECOWAS which include perceived departure of ECOWAS from the “pan-African ideals of its founding fathers.

“Perceived influence of hostile foreign powers on ECOWAS, a feeling of abandonment by ECOWAS in their fight against terrorism; and the imposition of illegal, illegitimate, inhumane and irresponsible sanctions by ECOWAS.

“These claims have no real basis; the hasty intent on withdrawal of membership from ECOWAS did not take into account the conditions for withdrawal of membership from ECOWAS.

“Such decisions are espoused in the 1993 ECOWAS Revised Treaty, but more importantly, the three Member States have not really reflected the implications of this decision on the citizens”.

“We have, therefore, prepared two Memoranda on this issue for your consideration, including an analysis of the wider implications of the withdrawal for the concerned Member States and the Community at large.”

He decried Senegalese President Macky Sall’s decision to repeal decree 2023-2283 of Nov. 29, 2023, while convening the county’s electoral body for Feb. 25, 2024 presidential election to be concern for the MSC.

This, according to him, resulted in postponement of the country’s presidential election followed by the adoption of the National Assembly, saying such is against resolution fixed for the Dec. 15, 2024 poll.

The president said, “These development have engendered crisis in the country and the sub-region, these unfolding events in the region are posing threats to peace and political stability in our Community.

“Consequently, additional Memorandum has been prepared on the situation in Senegal for consideration. This session of the MSC therefore invites you to critically examine implications of trio ECOWAS member-countries withdrawal.”

Mr Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of African Union Commission (AUC), represented by Mr Bankole Adeoye, AUC’s Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security called for urgent steps to tackle ECOWAS issues.

Mahamat said, “This meeting is critical in our view and we believe the extraordinary nature reflects the urgency to address this conflicting matters on our continent, particularly in West Africa.

“We are continually faced with terrorism, violence extremism, insurgencies, difficult disruption and governance deficit, if these issues are not addressed promptly holistically, we may undermine our democratic gains.

“Regrettably, we have continued to experience these complex challenges, particularly in this Sahel.”

He urged the three countries to constantly dialogue with ECOWAS, saying we have to ensure that security, democracy, good governance and economic development will advance lofty ideals of ECOWAS.

Mr Leonardo Santos Simao, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS), decried the three countries withdrawal to hinder engagement between ECOWAS and the member states.

He promised to work closely with the ECOWAS community in support of the national and regional efforts to ensure sustainable peace, security and development within the sub-region.

“Such are Member States undergoing political transition processes following the commendable decisions taken by ECOWAS Heads of States and Governments at the 64th Ordinary Session on Dec. 6, 2023 in Abuja.

“While the declaration has been diversely appreciated across the region, it illustrates the need to rebuild trust between our multilateral institutions, people we serve and carefully implement provisions of relevant texts.”

Amb. Yusuf Tuggar, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Chair of MSC, commended partnership by ECOWAS Member States towards the sub-regional success, saying it present substantial opportunities for trade and investment.

“This crucial meeting is to address recent developments and challenges faced within the sub-region. As ECOWAS body, it is incumbent upon us to devise solutions to challenges presented by these decisions.

“Our meeting provides opportunity to carefully assess challenges presented by the decision of the military rulers of Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger arbitrarily to withdraw from ECOWAS.

“This is amidst the potential implications for their people and indeed, for the Community as a whole, and to review unfolding situation in Senegal and develop plan to navigate resulting complexities.”

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