The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) called for reconciliation Friday with Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger after the three countries announced their exit from the bloc.
ECOWAS urged the three countries to prioritize dialogue and unity in the face of regional challenges in a statement following an extraordinary session of the bloc’s Mediation and Security Council in the Nigerian capital of Abuja,
Nigeria’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Chair of the Mediation and Security Council, Ambassador Yusuf Tuggar, said the decision by the three Sahel countries to withdraw from the bloc poses yet another challenge.
“The choice of these three countries to exit ECOWAS would not only bring hardship to their people but also undermine regional integration efforts,” he said. “We must carry forward the momentum generated in this session and continue our efforts to engage with the concerned member states in the spirit of understanding and reconciliation.”
Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger’s decision last month to withdraw from the ECOWAS bloc has raised regional concerns.
Founded May 28, 1975, the regional intergovernmental organization offers citizens of the 15 member countries visa-free travel and residence in the member countries to work or reside.
The bloc’s treaty stipulates that member states wishing to withdraw must give a one-year written notice. But the three countries said Wednesday that they would not respect a year’s notice to withdraw as required by the bloc’s treaty.
Relations between ECOWAS and the three countries have been tense after the bloc imposed heavy sanctions following military coups in Mali in 2020, Burkina Faso in 2022 and Niger last July.
Omar Alieu Touray, the president of the ECOWAS Commission, affirmed that the bloc “remains committed to reflecting the aspirations of its citizens for accountable and democratic governance.”