Niger, Mali, Burkina Faso Not Rejoining ECOWAS, Says General Tiani

The military leader of Niger Republic, General Abdourahamane Tiani, on Saturday said that the people of his country, along with neighbours Mali and Burkina Faso, have “irrevocably turned their backs” on the West African bloc, ECOWAS.

He disclosed this at the opening of a summit in Niamey between the three Sahelian nations who pulled out of the larger group earlier this year.

Our people have irrevocably turned their backs on ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States),” said Tiani.

The President of the ECOWAS Commission, Dr Omar Alieu Touray, had on Thursday, lamented that despite several efforts being made by the regional bloc to bring Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger back to the fold, the trio are not showing any sign of returning.

While speaking at the opening ceremony of the 92nd Ordinary Session of the Council of Ministers of the bloc, in Abuja, he said ECOWAS was yet to establish a framework for negotiation with the authorities in the three Sahelian countries on their decision to withdraw their membership from the Community.

On January 28, the three military juntas in Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger announced they would leave the ECOWAS.

“Despite our entreaties, in the form of softening of sanctions, invitation of the governments to technical meetings, and request for meetings, we have not yet gotten the right signals from these Member States,“ Touray said.

Two summits

A divided West Africa hosts two presidential summits this weekend – one in Niger between Sahel region military regime leaders, followed by another in Nigeria on Sunday with leaders of a wider economic bloc.

Saturday's summit in Niger's capital Niamey marks the first between the military leaders of a new regional bloc, the Alliance of Sahel States (AES).

Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger set up the mutual defence pact in September, leaving the wider Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) bloc in January.

Their ECOWAS exit was fuelled in part by their accusation that Paris was manipulating the bloc, and not providing enough support for anti-jihadist efforts.

The exit came as the trio shifted away from former colonial ruler France, expelling anti-jihadist French troops, and turned towards what they call their “sincere partners” – Russia, Turkey and Iran.

Given the deadly jihadist violence the three countries face, “the fight against terrorism” and the “consolidation of cooperation” will be on Saturday's agenda, according to the Burkinabe presidency.

Sunday's summit in the Nigerian capital Abuja then offers heads of ECOWAS states the opportunity to discuss relations with the AES.

After several bilateral meetings, the three Sahelian strongmen are gathering for the first time since coming to power through coups between 2020 and 2023.

In mid-May, the foreign ministers of Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger agreed in Niamey on a draft text creating the confederation, which the heads of state are expected to adopt at Saturday's summit.

Last updated on July 24th, 2024 at 06:29 am

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