Military regimes in Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger declared on Sunday their immediate exit from the West African bloc ECOWAS.
In a joint statement, leaders of the three Sahel nations termed it a “sovereign decision” to withdraw from the Economic Community of West African States without delay.
With ongoing challenges related to jihadist violence and poverty, these regimes have maintained strained relations with ECOWAS since coups occurred in Niger last July, Burkina Faso in 2022, and Mali in 2020.
Following their suspensions from ECOWAS, Niger and Mali faced severe sanctions. In response, they have solidified their stance and formed an “Alliance of Sahel States.”
Concerns over the French military’s withdrawal from the Sahel region, extending across the Sahara desert, have raised alarms about conflicts spreading towards Gulf of Guinea states such as Ghana, Togo, Benin, and Ivory Coast.
Niger’s military regime-appointed prime minister criticized ECOWAS for “bad faith” on Thursday after the bloc largely ignored a planned meeting in Niamey.
Niger had anticipated an opportunity to address differences with other ECOWAS states. However, Niamey received a cold response, with heavy economic and financial sanctions imposed following the military coup that ousted elected president Mohamed Bazoum.