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Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso dumps Ecowas

THE political and economic unity of West Africa, a powerful bloc within Africa, was thrown up in the air after three powerful states took a monumental decision this weekend. 

Niger, Mali, and Burkina Faso, three West African countries currently under military rule, have signed a confederation treaty, solidifying their intent to pursue a path independent of the regional Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

Reuters reports that the signing took place at the inaugural summit of the Alliance of Sahel States (AES), marking a closer alignment between these nations in the insurgency-affected central Sahel region. The news agency notes that military juntas seized power in these countries between 2020 and 2023, leading to severed military and diplomatic ties with regional allies and Western powers.

Niger’s military leader, General Abdourahamane Tiani, described the summit as “the culmination of our determined common will to reclaim our national sovereignty.” Reuters highlights that this treaty formalization confirms the three countries’ rejection of ECOWAS, coming just a day before an ECOWAS summit aimed at persuading them to reconsider their January decision to leave the bloc.

Reuters mentions that while the exact extent of policy harmonization within the AES is unclear, the three states agreed in March to establish a joint force to address security threats across their territories. The news agency also notes that their finance ministers have discussed the possibility of creating a monetary union.

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The article points out that ECOWAS has made diplomatic efforts to dissuade the three states from leaving the 50-year-old alliance, as their departure could reverse decades of regional integration and complicate trade and service flows worth nearly $150 billion annually.

Reuters reports that the falling-out is linked to ECOWAS’s response to the coups with sanctions and threats of force. The news agency adds that these policy shifts have reshaped international influence in the central Sahel, with the three states fostering closer ties with Russia at the expense of relationships with France, Nigeria, and the United States.

By The African Mirror