Why Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger Are Leaving ECOWAS
On January 28th, Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger jointly announced they were leaving the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS. This is a regional economic and political union of most countries in West africa. Citizens enjoy free movement across borders of ECOWAS member states and many of its members share the same currency. ECOWAS also seeks to uphold democratic norms, and each of these three countries are led by military juntas. Now, Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger are setting up rival entity, called the Alliance of Sahel States. Joining me to discuss the significance of this joint decision to exit ECOWAS is Ornella Moderan, a researcher and practitioner who's been working in the Sahel and West Africa for nearly 15 years. She is currently a Research Fellow with the Netherlands-based Clingendael Institute. We kick off discussing the role of ECOWAS in West Africa, particularly the important,albeit imperfect, ways it seeks to uphold democracy in the region. She then explains why these countries left ECOWAS and what this decision means for the region, for Africa and for the world at large.