The Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) has stressed the critical need for diplomacy and unity in the face of regional challenges.
The regional bloc took this position at the conclusion of its extraordinary session of the Mediation and Security Council (MSC) at the Ministerial Level, held in Abuja, Nigeria on Friday.
At the conclusion of the session, Nigeria’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Chair of the MSC, Ambassador Yusuf Tuggar, said the decision of Burkina Faso, Niger, and Mail to withdraw from the community has presented yet another challenge. However, members are heartened by the spirit of cooperation to resolve this challenge that upholds the values of the community, he emphasized.
On 28 January 2024, the military juntas of Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger jointly announced their immediate withdrawal from Ecowas. They accused the body of imposing inhumane sanctions aimed at reversing recent coups in their respective countries, contending that Ecowas, influenced by foreign powers, had become a threat to its member states and their populations.
During the MSC extraordinary session, Ambassador Tuggar added: “We must carry forward the momentum generated in this session and continue our efforts to engage with the concerned member states in the spirit of understanding and reconciliation”.
He warned that the choice of these three countries to exit Ecowas would not only bring hardship to their people but also undermine regional integration efforts.
He further reinforced commitments to dialogue, diplomacy, and reconciliation as the cornerstone of the bloc’s approach to resolving disputes within the community.
Addressing the implications of such decisions on the broader integration process, Ambassador Tuggar characterized them as a small setback rather than a complete disruption of African integration. He emphasized the significant movement and interconnection of people within the Ecowas region, highlighting the strength of current integration accomplishments despite present difficulties.
In addition to regional integration and diplomacy, the council session focused on the pressing issue of terrorism.
A significant decision was reached for the activation of the ECOWAS Standby Force to combat the existential threat of terrorism that looms over the community, including Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger.