A man with the Malian National flag draped over his head and shoulders | Florent Vergnes/AFP via Getty Images

Niger, Mali, Burkina Faso quit ECOWAS bloc as West African tensions deepen

The three countries have had tense ties with the regional economic group after coups in recent years.

BY JONES HAYDEN |

West African countries Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger said on Sunday that they are withdrawing from the ECOWAS regional economic bloc, accusing the group of “inhumane” sanctions to reverse the coups in their nations.

All three countries, which were founding members of ECOWAS, the Economic Community of West African States, are currently led by militaries that seized power from civilian leaders. France withdrew its troops from Niger in late 2023 after the coup in that country last summer.

In a joint statement issued late Sunday, the three countries said they have “decided in complete sovereignty on the immediate withdrawal of Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger from the Economic Community of West African States.”

They charged that ECOWAS has “moved away from the ideals of its founding fathers and pan-Africanism.”

“Furthermore, ECOWAS, under the influence of foreign powers, betraying its founding principles, has become a threat to its member states and its populations whose happiness it is supposed to ensure,” they said.

Considered West Africa’s top political and regional authority, the 15-nation ECOWAS — formed in 1975 to “promote economic integration” in member countries — has struggled in recent years to reverse rampant coups in the region.

The countries have had tense ties with ECOWAS since coups took place in Niger last July, Burkina Faso in 2022 and Mali in 2020

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