AU expresses ‘deep regret’ over withdrawal of Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger from ECOWAS

The African Union on Tuesday expressed “deep regret” over the decision by the military regimes in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger to withdraw from the West African bloc ECOWAS.

The AU said its commission president, Moussa Faki Mahamat, “calls on regional leaders to intensify the dialogue between the ECOWAS leadership and the three aforementioned countries”, which accused the West African bloc of posing a threat to their sovereignty.

The three countries, which have shared tense ties with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) since the coups, announced their decision in a joint statement on Sunday.

Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger were founding members of ECOWAS in 1975, but the bloc has imposed sanctions on them following military coups that overthrew elected civilian governments.

The coups took place in Niger in July, Burkina Faso in 2022 and Mali in 2020.

On Sunday, the trio — which have formed an Alliance of Sahel States (AES) — jointly said ECOWAS had come “under the influence of foreign powers, betraying its founding principles” and was a “threat to member states and peoples”.

The AU said Tuesday that the African Union Commission was willing “to provide all the assistance in its power for the success of the logic of fraternal dialogue, far from all external interference from wherever they come”.

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