By Chinelo Obogo
The leadership of Burkina Faso, Niger, Mali have officially withdrawn their membership of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), accusing the President Bola Tinubu-led Commission of imposing illegal sanctions, rights violation among others.
In a joint statement signed by General Aboubacar Lamizana, General Moussa Traoré and Lieutenant Colonel Seyni Kountché, respectively Heads of State of Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger and released on Sunday, January 28, 2024, the military heads of state of moving away from the ideals of its founding fathers and pan-Africanism.
The countries also accused the Commission of being influenced by foreign powers and betraying its founding principles, saying that it has become a threat to its member states and its population.
“After 49 years of existence, the valiant people of Burkina, Mali and Niger note with much regret, bitterness and great disappointment that their Organization 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.
“Indeed, the organisation has not provided assistance to our States in the context of our existential fight against terrorism and insecurity; worse, when these States decided to take their destiny into their own hands, it adopted an irrational and unacceptable posture by imposing illegal, illegitimate, inhumane and irresponsible sanctions in violation of its own texts; all things which have further weakened populations already bruised by years of violence imposed by instrumentalized and remote-controlled terrorist hordes.
“Faced with this continuing situation, their excellencies, Captain Ibrahim Traoré, Colonel Assimi Goïta and Brigadier General Abdourahamane Tiani, respectively Heads of State of Burkina Faso, the Republic of Mali and the Republic of Niger, taking all their responsibilities in the face of history and responding to the expectations, concerns and aspirations of their populations, decide in complete sovereignty on the immediate withdrawal of Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger from the Economic Community of West African States. Done in Ouagadougou, Bamako and Niamey, January 28, 2024,” the statement read.
It would be recalled that in June 2023, soldiers from the Presidential Guard in Niger, deposed President Mohamed Bazoum, thus truncating the constitutional political leadership in the West African country. Two days later, the soldiers named General Tchiani as the new leader of the country, with Tchiani warning against any foreign military intervention.
Shortly after the coup, President Tinubu, who is the Chairman of ECOWAS held a Summit in Abuja with other ECOWAS leaders and they agreed on appropriate ways to restore democracy in Niger. The Summit announced immediate sanctions on Niger including the closure of land and air borders between ECOWAS countries and Niger, establishing a no-fly zone on all commercial flights to and from Niger, and suspending all commercial and financial transactions between ECOWAS member states and Niger.
Furthermore, assets of Niger in ECOWAS Central Bank, Niger state enterprises and parastatals in commercial banks were to be frozen. Niger was to be suspended from all financial assistance and transactions with financial institutions within ECOWAS.
Additionally, travel bans and assets freezes were imposed on the military officials involved in the coup attempt, as well as their family members and civilians who accept to participate in any institution or government established by these military officials.