Triple Exit: You Let Your People Down – Nigeria Tells Military Juntas

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Military leaders of Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso.
Mediaage NG News – ABUJA, Nigeria

The Nigerian government has hit out at Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger for withdrawing their membership of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). It said they “let their people down”.

Last Sunday, the three governments announced their decision to leave the West African bloc were already suspended from ECOWAS, after recent coups.

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The three countries were all founding members of ECOWAS formed nearly fifty years ago.

In a statement, the Nigerian Foreign Ministry accused the countries of not acting in good faith, criticizing their military rulers.

“Unelected leaders engage in a public posturing to deny their people the sovereign right to make fundamental choices over their freedom of movement, freedom to trade and freedom to choose their own leaders”, the statement read.

Strengthening their ties with Russia and distancing themselves from France, the military rulers of the withdrawn countries say they chose to restore security before organising elections, having already formed a mutual defence pact last September called the ‘Alliance of Sahel States’.

Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso had accused the ECOWAS leadership of being influenced by external powers, while failing to help them tackle jihadist violence in their countries.

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Reports from Niger on Monday said 22 persons were killed in a suspected jihadist attack on a village near a border with Mali. A local official said people had arrived in Motagatta in the Tillaberi region on motorbikes and started shooting people.

Withdrawal will hit hard given that the community guarantees visa-free travel and the right of settlement and work in member countries, according to an analysis by AFP news agency, the BBC said.

Following coups that took place in Niger last July, Mali in 2020 and Burkina Faso in 2022, there had been tensed relations between the three countries and ECOWAS. The regional failed to recognise the military leadership and asked them to their countries to civilian rule.

In its statement on the three countries’ departure,

The Nigerian Ministry of Foreign Affairs further added that Nigeria is willing to engage with the three countries.

Nigeria is the biggest member of ECOWAS and Niger’s main economic partner.

Last December, Russia reopened its embassy in Burkina Faso. It had been closed since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Also, according to its military rulers last week, Burkina Faso, received 25,000 tonnes of free wheat from Russia who has clearly been seeking alliance with African countries and other places, having been condemned by western countries for staging war against Ukraine.

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