Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger to Leave ECOWAS Economic Bloc

Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger to Leave ECOWAS Economic Bloc


What You Need to Know: 

Malian Prime Minister, Colonel Abdoulaye Maïga, announced on Sunday his country’s intention to leave the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), alongside Niger and Burkina Faso. 

The three nations have been members of the economic bloc since its inception in May, 1975. 

In his televised address, Maïga stated, “After 49 years of existence, the valiant people of Burkina, Mali and Niger note with great regret, bitterness and great disappointment that their Organization has moved away from the ideals of its founding fathers and from Pan-Africanism. Furthermore, ECOWAS, under the influence of foreign powers, betraying its founding principles, has become a threat to its member states and its populations whose happiness it is supposed to ensure.”

Continuing, “Indeed, the organization has not provided assistance to our States in the context of our existential fight against terrorism and insecurity; worse, when these States decided to take their destiny into their own hands, it adopted an irrational and unacceptable posture by imposing illegal, illegitimate, inhumane and irresponsible sanctions in violation of its own texts; all things which have further weakened populations already bruised by years of violence imposed by instrumentalized and remote-controlled terrorist hordes.”


Both Niger and Mali have been under ECOWAS sanction since their coup’s in 2023 and 2021,  respectively. 

Furthermore, the withdrawal of the three nations from the G5 Sahel, an institutional framework centered around combatting jihadist groups in the region, marks another step the nation’s have taken to establish a security apparatus without French influence.

Speaking on the decision to leave the G5 in December 2023, representatives from Niger and Burkina Faso claimed, “the G5 Sahel cannot serve foreign interests to the detriments of our people, and even less the dictates of any power in the name of a partnership that treats them like children, denying the sovereignty of our peoples.”

As a result, a new mutual defense pact, known as the Alliance of the Sahel States (ASS) was created to fill the defense gap. 

Associate fellow at the Royal United Services Institute in London, Folahanmi Aina, claimed in an analysis for Foreign Policy, “collectively, these states do not have what it takes militarily and economically to fight off the threat of violent extremism, let alone guarantee the sustenance of a defense pact, given the logistical technicalities involved. Even more important is that they lack the state capacity to address the underlying root causes of violent extremism, some of which include deteriorating socioeconomic conditions such as poverty, youth unemployment, inequality, illiteracy, poor governance, and environmental degradation. Their institutions are simply too weak.”

What is ECOWAS?:

Originally formed in 1975, with 15 member states, the Economic Community of West African States seeks to promote economic integration in the region, with the community’s official website stating, “Considered one of the pillars of the African Economic Community, ECOWAS was set up to foster the ideal of collective self-sufficiency for its member states. As a trading union, it is also meant to create a single, large trading bloc through economic cooperation.”

The institution has however, faced serious challenges since the coup’s enacted in Niger, Burkina Faso and Mali. 

This morning, ECOWAS released the following statement in regards to the three nation’s announcement.

Bianca Bridger
Bianca Bridger
Bianca Bridger is a Political Science Graduate from the University of Otago, New Zealand. Currently working as an Editor for The ModernInsurgent and writing for Atlas News, her interests include conflict politics, history, yoga and meditation.
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