The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), on Thursday, convened a meeting of its mediation and security council to discuss political developments in the region.
The meeting discussed the announced exit of three of its members from the bloc, Niger, Burkina Faso and Mali. It also discussed the situation in Senegal following the postponement of the election that was scheduled to be held later this month.
“As you are all aware, our region is in the spotlight once again… this crucial meeting has been convened to address these recent developments and challenges faced in the sub-region,” said Nigeria’s foreign minister and Chair of the ECOWAS Mediation and Security Council Yusuf Tuggar.
He added that it is incumbent on the leaders of the bloc to devise solutions to the challenges bedevilling the region.
Mr Tuggar also noted that while the bloc seeks solutions, it must remain committed to the principles of democratic governance and safeguarding the right of our people to freely elect their leaders.
He further commended “the collective efforts of all our Member States in upholding the decision by ECOWAS on those Member States that have deviated from constitutional governance.”
According to Mr Tuggar, the meeting provides the bloc with an opportunity to assess the challenges presented by the decision of the withdrawing countries, and the potential implications for the lives of their people as well as ECOWAS.
The meeting also reviewed the unfolding situation in Senegal and developed a plan to navigate the resulting complexities.
Speaking at the meeting, the President of the ECOWAS Commission, Alieu 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.”
On the three countries who announced their exit from the bloc, Mr Touray said ECOWAS was hoping to make more progress in electoral transitions before the announcement which he called an ‘unfortunate turn of events’.
Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso on 28 January in a joint statement announced they were exiting ECOWAS, citing what they said were inhumane sanctions, and deviation of the bloc from its founding principles amongst others.
ECOWAS had responded that it did not receive any notification on the said withdrawal.
Mr Touray during his speech clarified that the bloc received individual notification from each country on 29 January.
“While these claims have no real basis, 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 reflected on the implications of this decision on the citizens,” he said.
On Senegal, Mr Touray said the postponement of the election and the president’s tenure have engendered a crisis in the country and the sub-region.
“These unfolding events in the region are posing threats to peace and political stability in our Community,” he noted.
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