West African bloc will suffer after exit by coup leaders – Nigerian lawyer
The withdrawal of Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) will have a significant impact on the bloc’s remaining members, Nigerian lawyer Daniel Bwala has told RT in an exclusive interview.
Bwala, who was spokesperson for the presidential candidate from the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2023 Nigerian election, said West Africa is deeply interconnected, meaning the departure from ECOWAS announced by the three states on Sunday will be keenly felt across the region.
“ECOWAS member states also rely on some of these [former] member states, either in terms of transit for transatlantic trade, or the joint security alliances that we are used to fighting the [jihadist] insurgency,” the lawyer stated.
However, Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger will also suffer if they believe they can exist “in isolation,” Bwala argued.
“You [Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger] cannot isolate yourself as three member states, even if you have a degree of support from outside, since you are bound by common land, common heritage, common trade and all of that, and think you can succeed in isolation,” he stated. “The impact will be more on both sides.”
Working together as a community allows for greater achievement than doing so individually, Bwala concluded.
The leaders of the military governments of Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger announced their decision to exit ECOWAS in a joint statement on Sunday. All three leaderships have been under increasing pressure from sanctions imposed by the 15-member bloc, aimed at accelerating their transition to democratic rule.
The economic group had earlier voiced its disapproval of the military authorities in the three states, vowing to prevent any further coups in the region.
Ouagadougou, Bamako, and Niamey have been united in their opposition to ECOWAS, alleging that it acts under Western influence. The three states have also accused the bloc of not backing them in the fight against decade-long jihadist violence in the region.
Despite the announcement from Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger that they are quitting the bloc, ECOWAS said in a statement on Sunday that it had not received any formal notification about their withdrawal.