As Foreign Affairs Ministers of Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) meet to deliberate on how to move ahead after the with withdrawal of Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso from the bloc, the ECOWAS Commission President, Alieu Touray said now is the time for unity among all Member States.
He said: “If there is a time for ECOWAS to stay together, this is the time … There is no challenge that ECOWAS cannot overcome”.
Also for deliberation at the Extraordinary Session of the Mediation and Security Council at Ministerial level is the announced postponement of Senegal General Election.
Speaking at the opening session of the meeting, Touray said the meeting will consider the notification of withdrawal of the three countries and there wider implications.
Touray stressed that as a community, now is the best time for the sub-region to stay together despite the challenges, while reminding the gathering that ECOWAS is not an institution but a community.
He said the claims given by the countries have no real basis and hasty.
Touray said, ” Despite our collective efforts to create a conducive and
peaceful environment for our community citizens, the facts on the ground
show that we still have some more work to do collectively.
“Excellencies, while we were hoping to make more progress on transitions in terms of elections this year in these countries, it is really sad to note the unfortunate turn of events, as three member States – Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger –announced their withdrawal from ECOWAS “with immediate effect” through a joint-communiqué signed by
representatives of all three countries on 28th January 2024.
Touray who noted that the claims of the three countries have no real basis, said “the hasty decision of withdrawal of membership of ECOWAS did not take into account the conditions for withdrawal of membership from ECOWAS, as espoused
in the 1993 ECOWAS Revised Treaty.
“But more importantly, the three
Member States have not really reflected on the implications of this decision on the citizens. “
He therefore said the Extraordinary Session of the Mediation and Security Council at Ministerial level should look into the wider implications of the withdrawal for the concerned Member States and the
Community at large. “
Touray also condemned the postponement of the Senegal’s general elections, saying “these unfolding events in the region are posing threats to peace and political stability in our Community.”
AU Commission Chairperson who was represented by Ambassador Bankole Adeoye said the withdrawal is a set back to the vision of integration of the region.
Adeoye noted that this is a trying times for the sub-region, adding that the AU Commission was convinced that the countries will continue to dialogue and cooperate with ECOWAS.
In his Opening remark, Nigeria Foreign Affiars Minister, Yusuf Tuggar, said: “Our meeting here today provides us the opportunity to carefully assess the challenges presented by the decision of the military rulers of Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger arbitrarily to withdraw from ECOWAS, with all the potential implications for the lives of their people, and indeed for the Community as a whole.
“We are also here to review the unfolding situation in Senegal and develop a plan to navigate the resulting complexities.
“We have faced similar crises in the past. As a region, we have not been found wanting.
“There are high expectations out there, from ordinary people as well as our partners in the international community, that this meeting can come up with far-reaching decisions to transform our challenges into opportunities. It goes without saying that we are stronger, together: as a Community we project not just our common values and a more attractive market. “