Prioritise diplomacy to resolve Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso impasse, ITUC-Africa tells ECOWAS

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By Michael Oche

The African regional organisation of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC-Africa) has expressed deep concern over the recent decision by Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso to withdraw from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

Our Correspondent reports that the decision by the three countries is a blow to the bloc’s regional integration efforts.

In a statement from its Lome office and signed by its General Secretary, Comrade Akhator Joel Odigie, ITUC-Africa noted that the decision to withdraw from ECOWAS is regrettable.

The withdrawal comes amidst challenging security threats in the region, the disintegration of democratic rule, and the imposition of sanctions by ECOWAS on the junta-led governments.

“The decision to withdraw from ECOWAS is regrettable. It will undoubtedly have farreaching negative consequences, particularly for the ordinary citizens of the region, including workers and traders, who will bear the brunt of economic hardships and increased poverty,” Odigie stated.

Since the coups – sanctions, and threats of military intervention have failed to deter the military leaders. Instead, they have hardened their rhetoric against the bloc and accused it of being influenced by external powers.

But Odigie called on stakeholders to prioritise dialogue, diplomacy and cooperation to resolve the current impasse and uphold the principles of democracy, human rights, and regional integration in the ECOWAS region.

He said, “While acknowledging the sovereign right of member states, we urge Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso to reconsider their withdrawal and engage in dialogue with ECOWAS to address underlying issues. The 12-month deadline stipulated in the ECOWAS treaty provides a window for political negotiation, and we implore both parties to utilise this period constructively.”

He said importantly, ECOWAS must reassess the efficacy, manner and scope of its sanction deployment, especially the ones designed and imposed to hurt and harm the socioeconomic wellbeing of the people with the intention of forcing them to revolt and push for regime change.

The statement reads further, “ITUC-Africa calls for a return to the ECOWAS of the people, grounded in democratic principles and the rule of law. We underscore that the revocation of membership from a regional body should only be undertaken by elected leaders through legitimate processes, including consultation with national parliaments. This is not the case now.”