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ECOWAS summit urges dialogue with withdrawn Sahelian countries

ECOWAS summit urges dialogue with withdrawn Sahelian countries

The heads of state of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) called for a resumption of dialogue with Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso, which have announced their alliance within the Confederation of Sahel States (CSS), during the conclusion of the 65th summit held yesterday evening, Sunday, in Abuja, Nigeria.

Local media sources reported Monday that the summit’s final statement underscored the need for greater efforts to prevent the withdrawal of these three countries from the regional bloc, noting the necessity for reforms to adapt ECOWAS to current circumstances.

The summit participants also discussed the financing mechanism for a regional force to combat armed groups and restore constitutional order, with a proposal to establish an initial force of 1,500 soldiers, backed by an annual financial support of USD 2 billion, it explained.

Additionally, the summit decided to extend the tenure of Nigeria’s President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, as head of the West African organization for an additional year
, despite earlier media reports indicating disagreements over his reappointment, it said.

On his side following the summit, ECOWAS Commission President Omar Touray cautioned in media statements that the region faces the risk of fragmentation due to the withdrawal of Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso.

He underlined concerns that freedom of movement and the common market of the regional bloc are at risk if these three countries led by transitional military councils withdraw.

Touray warned that their withdrawal could lead to political isolation, loss of investments worth millions of dollars, and exacerbate security challenges, hindering the proposed regional force’s effectiveness, which has long been in discussion.

Earlier, leaders of Niger, Mali, and Burkina Faso announced at the first summit of the three Sahelian countries two days ago the Sahel Alliance, aiming for deeper integration in a move seen as breaking away from the rest of ECOWAS.

In January 2024, the three Sahel countries decided to withdraw from E
COWAS, citing deviation from the organization’s founding objectives.

Source: Kuwait News Agency