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Military-Ruled Niger, Mali, & Burkina Faso Quit ECOWAS

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Three military-run West African nations, Niger, Mali, and Burkina Faso, announced on Sunday that they are quitting the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), a regional economic organisation that has been pressuring them to revert to democratic governance.

Following the suspension of the three coups, the bloc’s attempts at regional integration have suffered a setback with the announcement of the three’s decision in a simultaneous joint statement on their national television channels.

The action might further undermine ECOWAS, an organisation that has had difficulty stopping the decline of democracy in West Africa. In reaction to the withdrawal, ECOWAS stated that it has not yet received a formal notification of the move.

Following the military takeovers of Mali, Burkina Faso, and Guinea as well as an attempted coup in Guinea-Bissau, the bloc had previously declared that it does not recognise governments led by the military and that coups would no longer be accepted.

A precise timeline for a return to constitutional rule has not been provided by the military leadership since the coups, in spite of sanctions, talks, and threats of military intervention.

Rather, they have become more antagonistic towards the bloc and have charged it with being influenced by outside forces. Along with severing their military and other ties to France, their former colonial master, the three have turned to Russia for security assistance.

As the three Sahel countries struggle to contain insurgencies linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State, the military leaders have stated that they want to restore security before holding elections.

“After 49 years, the valiant peoples of Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger regretfully and with great disappointment observe that the (ECOWAS) organization has drifted from the ideals of its founding fathers and the spirit of Pan-Africanism,” Colonel Amadou Abdramane, Niger junta spokesman, said in the statement.

“The organization notably failed to assist these states in their existential fight against terrorism and insecurity,” Abdramane added.

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