Jump to navigation

The juntas take on the civilian presidents

The Sahelian military leaders launched  their summit in Niamey, a day before the Ecowas block held its own summit in neighbouring Nigeria

The fragility of the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) was evident at a leaders’ summit in Niamey where the Alliance des États du Sahel (AES) – the military regimes in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger – held their own parallel summit on the margins.

The three junta states announced their plans to formally leave Ecowas and set up their own bloc in January (AC Vol 65 No 5, Ecowas buckles as it goes for regional unity).

President of Ecowas Omar Alieu Touray warned leaders that the breakaway AES risked the ‘disintegration’ of the bloc and would lead to major economic and security costs.

‘Considering these benefits, it is evident that disintegration will not only disrupt the freedom of movement and settlement of people, but it will also worsen insecurity in the region,’ he said.

Nigeria’s President Bola Tinubu was re-elected to chair Ecowas in Niamey for another year. Senegal’s new President Bassirou Faye, elected in May on an anti-establishment ticket, has been appointed to lead talks with the AES aimed at bringing them back to the fold, as part of what Ecowas leaders described as ‘more vigorous’ reconciliation efforts.

Faye will have his work cut out. Niger’s military leader, General Abdourahamane Tiani, told the AES summit that ‘our people have irrevocably turned their backs on Ecowas.’

Criticising Ecowas for being influenced by the United States and Europe, he called for the establishment of a ‘community far removed from the stranglehold of foreign powers’. No formal mention was made of the juntas increasingly close alignment with Moscow.

It is a measure of the Ecowas bloc’s weakness that it appears prepared to hold out the olive branch to the juntas a year after threatening military action to return Niger’s ousted President Mohamed Bazoum to power.

Ecowas continued with economic sanctions on the three regimes, particularly harsh on Niger.

Those sanctions were abandoned in February, suggesting that nothing short of full capitulation will be enough to persuade the juntas to return to the fold (Dispatches 28/2/24, Regional bloc backtracks on economic sanctions).

Related Articles

Ecowas buckles as it goes for regional unity

Facing a break-up, the West African bloc drops the sanctions with which it was pressuring the Sahel putschists to restore civil rule

Playing on their popular support on West Africa's streets amid growing dissent, the Sahel's putschist regimes have exposed the weakness of the leaders of the Economic Community of ...


Regional bloc backtracks on economic sanctions

Leaders say the decision to lift restrictions has been made for humanitarian reasons as they urge Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso not to leave the community

The decision by leaders of the 15-nation Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) to lift economic sanctions on Niger's military regime is an embarrassing admission of d...


The centre isn't holding

Pressure for accountability and devolution of power is at the root of many of the continent's conflicts

In the evening of 7 January in Accra, four West African heads of state were toasting the inauguration of the newly elected Ghanaian President, John Agyekum Kufuor. At the same time...

Tote that barge

Shipping containers around West and Central Africa is twice as expensive as in other parts of the world. A private consortium now hopes to transform regional trade, with a service ...

A diplomatic coup

Nigeria's military regime is looking for more support after toppling the Freetown junta

While its ousting of Major Johnny-Paul Koroma’s junta in Freetown has strengthened the grip of General Sani Abacha’s government on West Africa in the short term, it wil...