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West African Civil Society Forum (WACSOF) Condemns The Exit Of Burkina Faso, Mali, And Niger from ECOWAS and Calls on ECOWAS to Review Sanctions

[30/01/2024]– The West African Civil Society Forum (WACSOF), the umbrella body of the civil society organizations in the West African region, expresses grave concern over the decision of Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger to exit the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). This action seems hasty as it does not take into account the established international procedure and norms governing the withdrawal of any party to the treaty of ECOWAS as enshrined in article 91 of the ECOWAS Treaty, which clearly specifies a 1-year notice of withdrawal.

We note that the implications of this decision of the triad on regional integration and development in West Africa and Africa as a whole are significant in the long term if allowed to stand. The impact will reverberate across multiple spheres of life in West Africa and on the livelihoods of West Africans, especially the citizens of the three countries. Indeed, the overall impact of this abrupt development raises specific concerns regarding the future of collective regional efforts in West Africa, especially the fight against terrorism, plans for democratic consolidation, the pace of regional economic development, and progress in addressing challenges related to climate change in the region. These implications are simply not acceptable!

WACSOF, therefore, strongly urges Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger to retrace their steps and reconsider their decision to exit ECOWAS. We urge them to explore diplomatic channels and engage in meaningful dialogue to address any underlying issues that may have precipitated their decision to withdraw from ECOWAS. It is our fervent hope that the three countries will recognize the potential harm that their actions may cause and work towards resolving their concerns within the established framework of ECOWAS.

On the other hand, WACSOF pleads with ECOWAS to review the array of sanctions imposed on the three countries, especially the aspects that have to do with intra-regional trade, economic and financial transactions. As we had highlighted in our earlier letter to the Chairperson of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government dated December 7, 2023, ahead of the December 10, 2023 Summit, these aspects of the sanctions have only served to cause hardships and economic woes for the citizens. We equally note that such harsh sanctions have additionally alienated the citizens of the Member States in question, which is inimical to the goals of regional integration that ECOWAS promotes.

WACSOF strongly requests the ECOWAS Chairperson to speedily convene an extraordinary summit of the Authority of Heads of State and Government in order to collectively re-examine the situation as well as speedily adopt and implement a set of practical strategies to address the current diplomatic impasse.

WACSOF remains committed to supporting and promoting regional cooperation and integration for the benefit of all West African citizens, in line with the objectives of the ECOWAS Vision 2020. We stand ready to engage in constructive dialogue and advocacy efforts to support any initiatives towards addressing the implications of this abrupt exit of Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger from ECOWAS, as well as to find a collaborative way forward for the entire region.

Kop’ep Dabugat

General Secretary

West African Civil Society Forum (WACSOF)

Tel: +234 803652 3475

Email: kopep.dabugat@wacsofoscao.org

Website: www.wacsofoscao.org

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West African Civil Society Forum (WACSOF) Condemns The Exit Of Burkina Faso, Mali, And Niger from ECOWAS and Calls on ECOWAS to Review Sanctions - WACSOFOSCAO