LETTER: Ecowas no longer guided by founding principles
Withdrawal of three countries from regional bloc at once is a harbinger of its sunset
John Dludlu’s column refers (“Democracy is under siege in West Africa”, February 7).
On January 28 Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger decided to withdraw from the Economic Community of West Africa (Ecowas). In a joint communiqué the three African leaders accused the organisation of betraying its original ideals, such as brotherhood, solidarity, mutual assistance and development. In their view Ecowas, “under the influence of foreign powers has become a threat to its member states and its population”.
The organisation did not help the republics in the fight against “terrorism and insecurity”, they said, and imposed “illegal, illegitimate, inhumane and irresponsible sanctions” against them when they decided to choose their own path of development.
Withdrawal from Ecowas was only a matter of time, since after the military coups in those countries their relations with the community had sharply deteriorated. The three states denounced military agreements with France and demanded the withdrawal of its military contingent. In response Ecowas, under pressure from Paris, threatened them with military intervention.
The community also imposed serious sanctions against these countries, including closing borders, banning commercial flights, suspending financial operations and freezing national assets. All of this clearly demonstrates that Ecowas is no longer guided by its founding principles and defends the interests of anyone but its members. Such behaviour discredits the organisation and confirms the correctness of the decision made by the leaders of the military governments.
Given that Ecowas is already experiencing a crisis, the withdrawal of three countries from it at once is a harbinger of the community’s sunset. But these are problems for the remaining members of the organisation, as Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger intend to pursue their own independent policy, based primarily on the desire and will of their citizens.
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