ECOWAS Exit Irreversible – Mali Foreign Minister Declares

The Foreign Minister of Mali, Abdoulaye Diop, has reaffirmed his nation’s decision to permanently withdraw from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

Naija News reports that leaders from Niger, Mali, and Burkina Faso have decided to depart from ECOWAS earlier this year, establishing their own confederation on Saturday.

A day after the leaders of ECOWAS gathered in Abuja, they selected the presidents of Senegal and Togo to facilitate discussions with the three countries in the Sahel region.

However, amid attempts at reconciliation by the organization, Diop expressed opposition to the idea of requiring visas for citizens of the three nations to travel within ECOWAS.

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It is worth noting that the decision of the three nations to leave ECOWAS was partly motivated by their belief that France was interfering with ECOWAS’ operations and not offering sufficient assistance in the fight against jihadist groups.

Diop, however, mentioned Mali’s willingness to continue working with ECOWAS during a late Monday interview on the state-run ORTM.

“Our heads of state were very clear in Niamey when they said the withdrawal of the three countries from ECOWAS is irrevocable and was done without delay, and from now on we must stop looking in the rear-view mirror”, Diop said on Monday.

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He added that Mali remains “open to working with our neighbours and other organisations with which we share this space.

“We will have to maintain discussions with others in order to move forward, but I believe that the path we have embarked upon is not reversible.”

Diop stressed that the creation of a confederation was only one stage of the process, adding that “the vision is to work towards a federation of the three states”.

ECOWAS has indicated that the three nations are required to adhere to a one-year deadline for their departure, yet the juntas assert that their exit is imminent and will occur without any postponements.

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This move has sparked worries about the impact on the region’s ability to freely trade and travel.

“If visas are re-introduced, we will be proven right in the sense that some ECOWAS officials have not abandoned the old methods of frightening and blackmailing people”, said Diop.

“In an integration process, there are gains and losses for everyone, but we must work to minimise the impact on our populations”, he added.

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