ECOWAS meets on the heels of Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger inaugurating separate group

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Heads of the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, began their 63rd Ordinary Summit in Abuja on Sunday without their counterparts from Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger.

Nigeria’s President Bola Tinubu, who is the ECOWAS chairman, opened the meeting around 1:00 pm thanking his colleagues for the support he enjoyed from them in the last year.

Tinubu’s tenure as the ECOWAS chairman expires in the course of this particular meeting, as a new chair is to emerge on July 9, but he has one obvious task before he hands over to the next chairman.

The task is that of leading ECOWAS in talks over the three countries that have chosen to go their separate way.

The three only on Saturday, July 6, formally inaugurated their own group which they named Sahel Alliance.

The military rulers of Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger officially forged a new group during their meeting in Niamey, emphatically severing ties with ECOWAS a day before ECOWAS was to begin its own meeting.

This is in spite of the main focus of the ECOWAS summit being to discuss ways to pacify the rebelling three after several West African leaders called for a resumption of dialogue with them.

Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger announced their Sahel Alliance pact, known as the Alliance of Sahel States, last September.

On the strength of the alliance, the three countries commit to cooperate in the event of external aggression against them.

The three countries left ECOWAS in January this year after ECOWAS moved against the respective military governments that toppled constituted democratic leaderships in those countries.

Speaking during their summit in Niamey on Saturday, Niger’s General Abdourahamane Tchiani described ECOWAS as a threat to the military-led countries.

He said the three countries would run an alliance free of foreign influence for their people.

Burkina Faso had its coup, toppling the civil democracy in place, in September 2022; Mali in August 2021 and Niger in July 2023.

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