The military juntas in West African nations Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger jointly announced their immediate withdrawal from the Economic Community of West African States on Sunday.
The juntas accused the regional economic bloc of imposing inhumane sanctions aimed at reversing recent coups in their respective countries.
The joint statement, broadcast on state television in all three nations, asserted that the decision to withdraw was made in complete sovereignty, alleging that ECOWAS had deviated from the ideals of its founding fathers and pan-Africanism after nearly 50 years of existence.
The juntas contended that ECOWAS, influenced by foreign powers, had become a threat to its member states and their populations.
This announcement follows a series of events that heightened political tensions in West Africa, including a coup in Niger last year. The three nations, Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger, have recently formed a security alliance and severed military ties with France and other European nations, turning to Russia for support.
The joint statement criticized ECOWAS for failing to assist the countries in addressing “existential” threats like terrorism, a common reason cited by their militaries for the coups. The juntas argued that ECOWAS sanctions, instead of improving their situations, have further weakened populations already affected by years of violence. The development adds a new layer of complexity to the evolving political landscape in West Africa.