Exit of Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger from ECOWAS and its chaotic fallout for the sub-region

On January 28, Niger, Burkina Faso and Mali announced their exit from the Heads of State and Government of Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) through a joint communique to their mother bloc.

This development was met with mixed feelings in the sub-region as while others were excited, many received it with fear, panic and anguished.

Those who expressed joy solidarized with leadership and the population of these countries on grounds of their legitimate concerns including neglect, unfair treatment, and abandonment in times of need in the face of terrorist attacks and threats.

Also bizarre were sanctions placed on them without regard to the mode of the population and humanitarian consequences.

This posture demonstrated a complete absence of the spirit of ECOWAS brotherhood and the bloc ignored the causes and / unconstitutional behaviour of the civilian regimes resulting in the military takeover and focused on the unconstitutional rule of the military.

In the view of member states and their population, it’s amounted to endorsing bad governance, abuse of public trust, basic principles underpinning the sub-regional bloc and complete dictatorship which is an affront to democracy.

For those of us who felt sad about their exist, our concerns were largely the immediate, medium to long-term consequences such as insecurity resulting from further terrorist threats, possible lack of intelligence sharing, hunger and starvation within the region because of a possible retaliation to the sanctions ECOWAS imposed on those military leaders.

A likely retaliatory measure might be a trade ban and /or restrictions on certain Agric produce such as pepper, onion, tomatoes, etc including animal and their products.

These countries have a comparative advantage of these crops than any other West African country and the sub-region must watch out.

What is rather curious is the laxity and manner in which ECOWAS didn’t see this coming and the likely consequences to its population and bloc.

In the view of LACPSA GHANA, the early warning signals were clear and required remorseful preventive diplomacy for the purposes of the interest of the population and the common ECOWAS brotherhood.

Their exit has left the already vulnerable sub-regional body further troubled. If ECOWAS can’t see this coming, we will doubtful the sincerity of that because it didn’t require much to know, feel and notice that trouble was knocking at the doors of Heads of state and authority of the government of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

They either ignored the signs or called their blof. Either of them was a mistake and will impact the stability and authority of the regional group for a very long time.

Partly because the control and command structure of the ECOWAS authority is broken down and it will be hard to tell which country will be next to follow (exist) and all the ongoing and exit diplomatic efforts, mediation and other accords with Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger have come to nothing now.

The joint communique sent out to Heads of state and authority of the government of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the ECOWAS Commission and their failure to take every step to keep the union and /or brotherhood together amounts to reneging on their responsibilities to the states and the population of West Africa.

This brings to sharp focus the immediate implications of the ECOWAS brotherhood which exists within and between these countries in the sharp region.

It is going to be uncordial, in the area of business and movements within and between the 3 countries.

Aside compulsory visa acquisitions and work permit requirements, a lot of protocols will change and the various ambassadorial offices will have to be adjusted to meet the new protocol demands.

It’s interesting to be treated by your own brother like a stranger in the case of the new relationship between ECOWAS and the breakaway team. It’s obvious that our diplomatic relationship with the 3 countries in the immediate past will depend largely on their business and trade relations with ECOWAS.

This is so crucial because the 3 countries are hardworking in the area of Agric and countries like Ghana, and a few others in the subregion depend on them for basic ideas like onions, tomatoes, and pepper.

They have a comparative advantage when it comes to this business and. Until Ghana and her peers engage in an aggressive production of these products, the 3 countries will continue to determine the direction of trade to the disadvantage of the states and populations.

Also, the exist of these 3 countries has left the sub-regional group more vulnerable in the area of joint security operations and organized crime in the common interest of the stability of the region.

This is because the new bloc will depend, assert, relate and share a lot in common with their newly found external friends which might not express the same vision and objective with their former ECOWAS brothers.

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