For 5 Reasons 3 African Countries Withdraw from ECOWAS Featured


What is ECOWAS?

ECOWAS, or the Economic Community of West African States, is a group of fifteen countries in West Africa that work together to improve their economies and solve common problems. They started in 1975 and their goal is to help each other become self-sufficient by trading with each other.

ECOWAS also want to work together on important issues like poverty, education, and protecting the environment. It has done a lot of good things over the years, like creating a free trade area and making it easier to trade with other countries. However, they also have some challenges to overcome, like making sure their plans actually happen, dealing with political problems, and making sure everyone is treated fairly.

Why Did Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso Leave ECOWAS?

On January 28, 2024, three countries in Africa, Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger, announced that they were leaving ECOWAS.  

The decision to leave the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) stemmed from a combination of geopolitical factors and concerns pertaining to regional integration.  Some officials felt that ECOWAS had failed in effectively addressing pressing issues and that leaving the organization would enable them to pursue more agile strategies in dealing with them. Additionally, disagreements over trade policies and economic disparities between member states also contributed to their decision to exit ECOWAS as they sought alternative arrangements that better aligned with their national interests.

Overall, while the departure from ECOWAS could be seen as a move towards greater autonomy for Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso, it also underscored a need for stronger regional collaboration on various fronts including security, trade, and development initiatives in West Africa.

Leaving ECOWAS also shows that they don't want other countries telling them what to do, which might make their governments more popular.

 5 Reasons for the withdrawal

  1. Disagreement over Sanctions

First things first, all three countries have had military coups in the past few years. ECOWAS, which is a group of West African countries, put sanctions on them to push for a return to civilian rule. But the military leaders in these countries think the sanctions are unfair. They say the sanctions hurt their economies and make life harder for regular people.

  1. Insecurity Concerns

Another big reason is that these countries are dealing with a lot of security problems, especially from groups of extremists called jihadists. They feel like ECOWAS hasn't given them enough support in dealing with these threats. They think ECOWAS is not doing its job of keeping the region safe.

  1. Straying from Founding Principles

The military leaders also say that ECOWAS has changed from what it was supposed to be. They believe that ECOWAS is supposed to be about African unity and working together as a region. But they think that some countries, especially former colonial powers like France, have too much influence in ECOWAS. They feel like their interests are being ignored.

  1. Geopolitical Alliances

Now, here's something interesting. Niger, Burkina Faso, and Mali have been getting closer to Russia lately. This has made them feel more distant from their usual Western allies. So, being part of ECOWAS, which has strong ties with the West, might not make them feel like they belong anymore.

  1. Domestic Pressure

Lastly, the military leaders in these countries might be feeling pressure from their own people to show that they are in charge and independent. By leaving ECOWAS, they can make a bold move and show that they are putting their country first.

Some think that the military leaders are just using these excuses to stay in power and avoid being held accountable for their actions.  We still don't know what the long-term effects will be for both ECOWAS and the three countries that left it.