The African Union (AU) on Tuesday expressed “deep regret” after Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger’s weekend decision to withdraw from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
In a statement, Moussa Faki Mahamat, the head of the African Union Commission, called on regional leaders to intensify dialogue between the ECOWAS leadership and the three countries.
The statement said that the African Union Commission is willing “to provide all the assistance in its power for the success of the logic of fraternal dialogue.”
Faki also called for “combined efforts so that the irreplaceable unity of ECOWAS is preserved and African solidarity strengthened.”
The three neighboring countries in the restive Sahel region jointly announced their immediate withdrawal from the ECOWAS on Sunday, saying the bloc is subservient to “foreign powers.”
On Monday, the foreign ministers of the military-led governments separately notified the ECOWAS Commission of their decisions to leave the bloc which they accused of “deviation from its founding ideals.”
The bloc’s treaty stipulates that member states wishing to withdraw must give a written one-year notice.
Relations between ECOWAS and the three countries have been tense after the bloc imposed heavy sanctions on them following military coups in Mali in 2020, Burkina Faso in 2022 and in Niger last July.
ECOWAS has said the three countries remain important members of the community and it remained committed to finding a negotiated solution to the political impasse.
Founded on May 28, 1975, the regional intergovernmental organization says it works to facilitate collaboration in various sectors, including trade, finance, and security, to foster stability and development in the West African region.