West Africa: Niger, Mali, Burkina Faso's Decision to Leave Complicating Regional Security - Ecowas

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), on Tuesday, said the decision of the trio of Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger Republic to leave the regional bloc is complicating the security situation in the region.

Abdel-Fatau Musah, Commissioner of Political Affairs, Peace and Security, ECOWAS, said this during a programme tagged: "Reducing vulnerabilities through partnerships - a stakeholders' engagement on regional defence and security perspectives" organisied by the European Union in conjunction with the National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC) in Abuja on Wednesday.

The three military-led West African nations in January announced their immediate withdrawal from the regional bloc, accusing the body of becoming a threat to its members.

Musah said: "Three member states who have decided to move from ECOWAS and create the Alliance of the Sahelian States have complicated the fight against terrorism in the region.

"ECOWAS's position is that we want these countries back into the community and we are doing everything to get them back.

"We need them also because of the theme of this meeting - partnership, partnership against the common enemy which is terrorism."

The ECOWAS commissioner pointed out that terrorism was already threatening the three countries, saying "If we don't team up and fight this, we will all be in trouble".

He said Burkina Faso has almost 50 per cent of its geographic space taken over by terrorists, raising the alarm that Africa and the whole world would be in trouble if terrorists were allowed to have a solid base to launch attacks in West Africa.

He said ECOWAS needed the cooperation of the wantaway countries to halt the emerging threat.

ECOWAS is now planning a summit to address the issues surrounding the three countries and how to reintegrate them back into the fold, according to him.

"In June, the ministers for finance and the ministers of defence of our region are also meeting in Abuja to work out the modalities of what it will take to fund the kinetic force that ECOWAS is putting up.

"The committees of the chief of defence staff has already come up with the cost implication of that force and the ministers are coming to decide concretely on the contribution, beginning with about 2.5 billion dollars to start up the counter-terrorism force in the region. The roadmap is very much on," said.

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