The Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), Transparency International (TI), and the West African Civil Society Forum (WACSOF) have jointly expressed concerns about the potential fragmentation of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) following the recent withdrawals of Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger Republic.
During a discussion led by CISLAC Executive Director Auwal Musa Rafsanjani, WACSOF General Secretary Kop’ep Dabugat, and Transition Monitoring Group (TMG) representative Najaatu Mohammed, apprehension was voiced over the decisions of three countries currently under military control.
The CSOs condemned the withdrawal announcements and emphasized the threat of gradual disintegration to a community that has long been a model for regional integration in Africa.
Rafsanjani stated, “While CSO continues to condemn in totality military rule in the region rather than resorting to constitutional measures, the threat of gradual disintegration of a community, which had hitherto served as a best practice template for regional integration in Africa, cannot be overlooked.”
The CSOs highlighted the importance of reflecting on the collective milestones achieved through regional integration, urging the concerned countries to reconsider their decisions.
They called on Niger, Mali, and Burkina Faso to rescind their withdrawal decisions, emphasizing the beneficial reasons for continued ECOWAS membership. The CSOs urged state and non-state actors to intensify engagements for a more united ECOWAS.
Furthermore, they appealed to the military authorities in the withdrawing countries to roll out workable transition plans, ensuring a prompt return to civil rule and the restoration of democratic order. Transparency and fairness were stressed, urging military authorities to avoid transmuting into civil rulers.
The CSOs called for free, fair, and credible elections in the withdrawing countries, encouraging active participation from the people to restore trust in democratic processes.
In addition, they called on ECOWAS leadership and all West African countries to lift sanctions imposed on the withdrawing nations, citing hardships faced by the populace. The CSOs stressed the importance of adhering to the principles of mutual respect to sustain a peaceful, united, and prosperous economic bloc.
Recognizing the clauses protecting member states from internal affairs interference, the CSOs underlined the necessity of a more integrated ECOWAS to address growing trans-border insecurity in the region.
CISLAC, WACSOF, and TMG reiterated the importance of continued dialogue and civil engagement for democratic stability in West Africa.