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ECOWAS warns of disintegration and insecurity as Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger sign confederation treaty

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The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) warned on Sunday that the region risked disintegration and worsening insecurity following the signing of a confederation treaty by junta-led Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger.

The Alliance of Sahel States treaty, signed on Saturday, signifies the three countries’ determination to turn away from the 15-member ECOWAS, which has been urging them to return to democratic rule.

ECOWAS Commission President Omar Touray highlighted the benefits of the near-50-year-old bloc, including freedom of movement and a common market of 400 million people, stating that these were under threat if the three countries exited the organization.

He warned that funding for economic projects worth over $500 million in Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger could be halted or suspended.

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“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,” Touray said at an ECOWAS summit in Abuja, Nigeria.

The withdrawal of Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger would be a significant blow to security cooperation, particularly in intelligence sharing and the fight against terrorism, he added.

ECOWAS leaders convened at the summit to discuss the implications of the Alliance of Sahel States treaty, noting that the juntas in the three states seized control through coups between 2020 and 2023, severing military and diplomatic ties with regional allies and Western powers.

Touray also mentioned that decisions on a regional standby force to combat terrorism and a regional currency would be made during the summit.

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