ECOWAS Ignores Sahel Alliance, Vows To Uphold Regional Unity


Chairman of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government and Nigeria’s President, Bola Ahmed Tinubu has addressed the move by some members of the ECOWAS countries under Military rule to float an Alliance of Sahel States, saying that the regional bloc refuse to be detracted from pursuing it collective objectives.

Reviewing the development in the sub-region, President Tinubu said the Sahel Alliance comprising Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso would not reduce the resolve of the Economic Community of West African States to achieve its priorities such as good governance for West African nations.

The ECOWAS Chair said this will catalyze socio-economic transformation and development.

President Tinubu upheld this in his opening address at the 64th Ordinary Session of the Authority of Heads of State and Government at the State House Conference Centre, Abuja.

He said, “It is important that we also review some development in our sub-region, including the move by some of our members under Military rule to float an Alliance of Sahel States.

“This phantom, push back-alliance appears intended to divert attention from our mutual quest for democracy and good governance that will impact the life of our people. 

“We refuse to be detracted from pursuing the collective dreams, aspirations and the noble path of ECOWAS integration as laid out in our institutional and legal frameworks.”

In September 2023, Mali’s Assimi Goita, who seized power in a military coup in 2020, explained that the “Liptako-Gourma Charter” forms the building block for an “Alliance of Sahel States to establish a collective defence and mutual assistance framework for our populations.”

The move followed months of diplomatic row in the wake of the coup d’état in Niger that overthrew the Mohamed Bazoum-led government and attracted anger, sanctions and even the threat of military intervention from the ECOWAS.

President Tinubu justified the sanctions, saying they were necessary to establish ECOWAS’ position against unconstitutional change of government.

“While the imposition of punitive sanctions may pose challenges, it is important to underscore that the struggle to protect the fundamental liberties of our Community Citizens must be upheld and respected.

“To this end, I would like to reiterate the imperative of re-engaging with the countries under military rule on the basis of realistic and short transition plans that can deliver democracy and good governance.

“On our part, we should be prepared to provide them with technical and material support to ensure the achievement of these strategic goals,” President Tinubu added.

He emphasized that the message must go out loud and clear: “military rule has become an aberration that subverts the popular will of the people. It no longer has any place in Africa.

Therefore, West Africans must be allowed to exercise their freedom of choice without let or hindrance.” 

However, he said member states must “improve on good government and respect human rights and the rule of law” for democracy to endure in the sub-region.

Meanwhile, the President of the ECOWAS Commission, Dr Omar Touray, decried that while the Niger Junta continues to hold Bazoum and his family hostage, they are also interfering with the flow of humanitarian support to vulnerable populations.

“The military authorities have unfortunately shown little remorse as they hold onto their untenable positions, holding not only Mohamed Bazoum, his family and members of his government hostage but also the people of Niger.

“And in line with the provisions of our community texts, they granted humanitarian access to medical and humanitarian goods for the sake of the people.

“But reports from humanitarian agencies show that the military authorities have been interfering with the flow, easy access of humanitarian support.”

He also highlighted massive cash transfers by the junta in violation of the existing ECOWAS sanctions, saying, “Despite the successful application of the sanctions, we observed with concerns some breaches including massive movement of physical cash by individuals across the borders.”

Sunday’s meeting is the third since President Tinubu assumed the Chairmanship of the Authority on June 9, 2023.

All heads of member states are present except for Burkina Faso, Guinea, Mali and Niger Republic.

Also delivering remarks were the representative of the African Union Commission, Bankole Adeoye and the special representative of the Secretary General of the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel, Dr Leonardo Simao.