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ECOWAS engaging third parties to resolve dispute with Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso – official

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has said it is involving third parties to resolve its differences with three “important members” – Mali,…

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has said it is involving third parties to resolve its differences with three “important members” – Mali, Burkina-Faso and Niger – who have indicated their interest in leaving the bloc.
The ECOWAS Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace, and Security, Amb Abdel-Fatau Musah, disclosed this on Friday during a Press Conference at the ECOWAS Commission in Abuja.
While noting that all financial and economic sanctions have been lifted on the three countries, he said other measures were being deployed to make them see reasons to remain in ECOWAS.
“There are various engagements also going on, not only by ECOWAS but by third parties and all that in order for all of us to find common ground with these countries.
“We are just waiting for the three member states who I must repeat, are all important members of ECOWAS. And without them, it is going to be more difficult to deal with many of the challenges facing the region. You know, terrorism, the whole issue of the Sahel what is happening there, and our collective goal in terms of free movement of people and all that.
“With the sanctions that were imposed, we saw the indirect impact of them on ordinary people who trade across borders. ECOWAS is a listening institution, the heads of state have listened to the population and they have taken the appropriate measures. The ball is now in the court of our member states, that is, the three countries,” he said.
While reacting to the decision of the three countries to establish a joint a security outfit to fight jihadist groups in the countries, the ECOWAS official said it was a good development, adding that ECOWAS was ready to encourage any effort that will help tackle insecurity in the region.
He however said it doesn’t mean the three countries were no longer part of the regional bloc.
Amb Musah said: “I want to repeat that article 91 of the ECOWAS revised Treaty of 1993 gives any country wishing to withdraw a grace period of one year during which period efforts will be made to make sure that the encumbrances that brought about this decision could be resolved and then to maintain the cohesiveness of the region.
“So it is within one year so we are still very much within that period. The decision to withdraw came in February. We’ve got all the way up to the next February to try to resolve the issues. ECOWAS is doing everything that we can, you know because in our unity lies our strength.”
The military regimes in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger January 28, announced their withdrawal from the West African bloc citing several reasons.
In an effort to keep them in the fold, the ECOWAS then lifted the economic sanctions imposed on them on 24 February 2024 following long hours of deliberations by the regional leaders at an extraordinary summit on the political, peace, and security situation in the sub region.

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