In the last couple of years, we watched the French influence crumble and collapse amid the changing geopolitical landscape in the Sahel region of Africa – a Savannah area south of the Sahara Desert and north of the tropical Jungles.
The military juntas that rose to power in Mali, Guiana and Burkina Faso have bucked widespread international pressure and hard economic sanctions by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), that went as far as to threaten military action.
So the new decision by the three African allies to leave the organization cannot be, under any circumstances, be called a surprise.
“Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso, three West African states led by the military, said on Sunday they are immediately leaving the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), a regional economic bloc that has been urging them to return to democratic rule.
The decision by the three, announced in a simultaneous joint statement on their national television channels, is a blow to the bloc’s regional integration efforts after it suspended the three following coups.”
Read: Powder Keg Africa: Burkina Faso Military Junta Foils Yet Another Coup d’état – Population Takes to the Streets in Support for Captain Traore
The departure of the three countries is bound to weaken ECOWAS, who appears to have been caught by surprise, with spokesperson limiting themselves to say that ‘it is yet to receive any formal notification about the withdrawal’ and declining further comment.
ECPWAS did not recognize the military-led governments.
“Since the coups – and despite sanctions, negotiations and threats of military intervention – the military leaders have failed to provide a clear timetable for a return to constitutional rule.
Instead, they have hardened their rhetoric against the bloc and accused it of being influenced by external powers. The three have also cut military and other ties with former colonial master France, and turned to Russia for security support.”
Read: Powder Keg Africa: Niger Military Junta Prevented Deposed President Bazoum From Escaping Detention – Lawyers Denounce He Is Now Being Held in Secret Location
The military leaders say they need to crush insurgencies linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State before any restoration of the democratic order.
“‘After 49 years, the valiant peoples of Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger regretfully and with great disappointment observe that the (ECOWAS) organization has drifted from the ideals of its founding fathers and the spirit of Pan-Africanism’, Colonel Amadou Abdramane, Niger junta spokesman, said in the statement. ‘The organization notably failed to assist these states in their existential fight against terrorism and insecurity’, Abdramane added.”
Read: ‘Au Revoir’: The Last French Troops Leave Niger, Signaling the End of Paris’ Influence in Africa’s Sahel Region
ABC News reported:
“Widely seen as West Africa’s top political and regional authority, the 15-nation bloc of ECOWAS — formed in 1975 to “promote economic integration” in member states — has struggled in recent years to reverse rampant coups in the region where citizens have complained of not benefitting from rich natural resources.
[…] Sunday’s announcement is the latest twist in a series of events that have deepened political tension in West Africa since it experienced its latest of a string of coups — in Niger — last year. It also comes as the three nations have formed a security alliance after severing military ties with France and other European nations and turning to Russia for support.”
The countries accuse ECOWAS of failing to assist those three countries in fighting terrorism.
“’When these States decided to take their destiny into their own hands, it (ECOWAS) adopted an irrational and unacceptable posture in imposing illegal, illegitimate, inhumane and irresponsible sanctions in violation of its own texts’, the statement noted.”
This new development is another proof of the diminishing influence of the two traditional superpowers in West Africa – France and Nigeria.
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