ECOWAS mulls measures to redress Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger withdrawal
Leonardo Simao, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS) decried the three countries’ withdrawal.
President of the ECOWAS Commission Dr Omar Touray disclosed this at a one-day Extraordinary Session of the Mediation and Security Council (MSC) at the Ministerial Level on Thursday in Abuja.
The meeting, which aimed at addressing issues that culminated in the recent decision by the three countries to withdraw from the bloc, also delved into Senegal’s pressing electoral situation, as well as the need for regional cooperation.
The commission’s President explained that the separate official notifications by the three countries to withdraw from ECOWAS on Jan. 29 had wider implications, which needed to be redressed.
He said: “To justify their action, the three countries outlined their grievances with ECOWAS, which include the perceived departure of ECOWAS from the “pan-African ideals of its founding fathers.
“Perceived influence of hostile foreign powers on ECOWAS, a feeling of abandonment by ECOWAS in their fight against terrorism; and the imposition of illegal, illegitimate, inhumane and irresponsible sanctions by ECOWAS.
“These claims have no real basis; the hasty intent on withdrawal of membership from ECOWAS did not take into account the conditions for withdrawal of membership from ECOWAS.”
According to Touray, such decisions were espoused in the 1993 ECOWAS Revised Treaty, but more importantly, the three-member states had not reflected the implications of this decision on the citizens.
“We have, therefore, prepared two Memoranda on this issue for your consideration, including an analysis of the wider implications of the withdrawal for the concerned member states and the Community at large,” he added.
He decried Senegalese President Macky Sall’s decision to repeal Decree 2023-2283 of Nov. 29, 2023, while convening the county’s electoral body for the country’s Feb. 25, 2024 presidential election, adding that it was of concern to the MSC.
This, according to him, resulted in the postponement of the country’s presidential election followed by the adoption of the National Assembly, saying such was against the resolution fixed for the Dec. 15, 2024 poll.
“These developments have engendered crisis in the country and the sub-region; these unfolding events in the region are posing threats to peace and political stability in our Community.
“Consequently, an additional Memorandum has been prepared on the situation in Senegal for consideration.
“This session of the MSC, therefore, invites you to critically examine the implications of the trio ECOWAS member-countries withdrawal,” he said.
Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the African Union Commission (AUC), represented by Mr Bankole Adeoye, AUC’s Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security, called for urgent steps to tackle ECOWAS issues.
Mahamat said: “This meeting is critical in our view and we believe the extraordinary nature reflects the urgency to address these conflicting matters on our continent, particularly in West Africa.
“We are continually faced with terrorism, violence extremism, insurgencies, difficult disruption, and governance deficit, if these issues are not addressed promptly and holistically, we may undermine our democratic gains.
“Regrettably, we have continued to experience these complex challenges, particularly in this Sahel.”
He urged the three countries to constantly dialogue with ECOWAS, adding that the bloc would ensure that security, democracy, good governance, and economic development would advance its lofty ideals.
Leonardo Simao, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS) decried the three countries’ withdrawal, noting that it would hinder engagement between ECOWAS and the member states.
He promised to work closely with the ECOWAS community in support of the national and regional efforts to ensure sustainable peace, security, and development within the sub-region.
“Such are Member States undergoing political transition processes following the commendable decisions taken by ECOWAS Heads of States and Governments at the 64th Ordinary Session on Dec. 6, 2023 in Abuja.
“While the declaration has been diversely appreciated across the region, it illustrates the need to rebuild trust between our multilateral institutions, people we serve and carefully implement provisions of relevant texts,” Simao said.
Amb. Yusuf Tuggar, Nigeria’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Chairman of MSC lauded the collaboration among ECOWAS member states towards sub-regional success, saying it presented substantial opportunities for trade and investment.
“This crucial meeting is to address recent developments and challenges faced within the sub-region. As ECOWAS body, it is incumbent upon us to devise solutions to challenges presented by these decisions.
“Our meeting provides the opportunity to carefully assess challenges presented by the decision of the military rulers of Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger to arbitrarily withdraw from ECOWAS.
“This is amidst the potential implications for their people and indeed, for the Community as a whole, and to review the unfolding situation in Senegal and develop a plan to navigate resulting complexities,” the minister added.
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