Concerned about the potential breakup of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), a coalition of civil society organizations (CSOs) issued a strong appeal for dialogue and a renewed commitment to regional unity. The groups, including the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), West Africa Civil Society Forum (WACSOF), and Transition Monitoring Group (TMG), expressed their dismay at the recent withdrawal announcements by Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso, urging all parties to seek solutions through diplomacy and cooperation.
The call to action arose during a media interactive session in Lagos, Nigeria, where the CSOs outlined their concerns and proposed solutions. They highlighted the detrimental effects of military coups in Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso, emphasizing the importance of restoring democratic rule in these countries.
Additionally, they expressed disapproval of sanctions imposed on these nations, arguing that they disproportionately harm vulnerable populations like women and children.
Beyond immediate concerns, the CSOs emphasized the long-term benefits of a strong and united ECOWAS. They pointed to the community’s achievements in fostering peace, promoting free movement of people and goods, and enhancing trade through initiatives like the removal of customs duties.
The communiqué signed by CISLAC’s Executive Director, Auwal Ibrahim Musa (Rafsanjani), WACSOF’s General Secretary, Kop’ep Dabugat, and a TMG representative, Najaatu Mohammed, highlighted the disheartening nature of abandoning diplomatic channels and pursuing disintegration at a time when the region is working towards a single market.
The CSOs urged the concerned countries to reconsider their withdrawal decisions and appealed to all stakeholders, including the ECOWAS leadership, to prioritize dialogue and diplomacy. They emphasized the need for mutual respect, adherence to the principles of non-interference, and a collective effort to address the region’s shared security challenges.
The communiqué concluded with a call for deep reflection on the collective milestones achieved by ECOWAS and a renewed commitment to building a more united and prosperous West Africa.