ECOWAS: Senegal President Urges Dialogue With Sahel Military Juntas

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Senegal President Bassirou Diomaye Faye leaves the Banquet Hall after the closing session of the ordinary session of Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Heads of State and Government in Abuja, Nigeria, July 7, 2024.

Bassirou Diomaye Faye, Senegalese President and West Africa’s ECOWAS “facilitator” on Monday called for dialogue and peaceful reconciliation with three countries in the region that recently split from the bloc.

The military leaders of Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso broke away from the Economic Community of West African States earlier this year and formed a confederation of their own on Saturday.

ECOWAS heads of state met in Abuja on Sunday and deplored the “lack of progress in interactions” with Burkinabe, Malian and Nigerien authorities, who came to power in a series of recent coups.

Said Senegal’s President Faye in a video posted Monday: “We cannot stand idly by.

“Our responsibility is to work on bringing everyone closer and reconciliation — to ensure there is room for dialogue”.

He said, vowed that the bloc would work towards peace.

The three countries’ decision to leave was fueled in part by their accusation that France was manipulating ECOWAS and not providing enough support for anti-jihadist efforts.

ECOWAS has warned the region faced “disintegration”, though its efforts to bring the seceding countries closer so far have failed.

Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger have called their withdrawals “irreversible”.

ECOWAS appointed Senegal’s president as a “facilitator” in negotiations with the three states, alongside Togolese President Faure Gnassingbe.

President Faye stressed that, on paper, Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger remained members for another year, as per article 91 of the organisation’s founding treaty.

Said Faye: “I hope that by the end of the [one-year] notice period, we will have had enough conversations to reconcile views and strengthen the organisation so that it can better tackle our shared challenges”.

ECOWAS announced on Sunday that it would draft a “prospective emergency plan” to “address any contingency” in the tense relations with the breakaway countries.

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