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Russia expects that there is still a chance to preserve ECOWAS unity — diplomat

Vsevolod Tkachenko noted that "West African states should decide for themselves how to find a way out of the current situation"

MOSCOW, February 13. /TASS/. Russia hopes that the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) can still preserve unity despite the withdrawal of Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger from the association, Vsevolod Tkachenko, head of the Russian Foreign Ministry's Africa Department, said in an interview with TASS.

"Based on our invariable principle "African problems - African solutions", we believe that West African states should decide for themselves how to find a way out of the current situation. We hope that the negotiation field for the Alliance of Sahel States (AES) and ECOWAS is still open and there is a chance to preserve the unity of the community if its leadership is able to offer the partners ready to leave an acceptable reconciliatory agenda of dialogue," he commented on the January 28 statement of Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger on the decision to immediately leave ECOWAS.

The diplomat noted that the move "was in many ways a response to the recent pressure actions taken by the community against Ouagadougou, Bamako and Niamey." "Indeed, ECOWAS not only imposed tough sanctions against them, but also considered options of forceful action," Tkachenko explained.

The three countries' decision

On January 28, Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger announced their decision to withdraw from the community as soon as possible. A joint statement by the three countries emphasized that ECOWAS "is under the influence of foreign powers, having become a threat to member states and their peoples." All three countries have submitted to ECOWAS official notifications of withdrawal from the organization.

On February 7, the content of the Mali Foreign Ministry Letter to the leadership of ECOWAS became known, which states that the republic does not consider itself bound by any obligations to the organization, including the timing of withdrawal from it together with Burkina Faso and Niger. Article 91 of the ECOWAS charter stipulates that the member countries of the community are required to fulfill obligations within one year after notification of withdrawal from the organization.

ECOWAS was created in the spring of 1975 by the countries of West Africa. It imposed sanctions on Burkina Faso, Guinea, Mali and Niger, demanding that the military that seized power in these countries restore civilian forms of government and hold presidential and general elections as soon as possible. With the departure of Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger from the community, the number of member countries of the association will be reduced to 12. The post of ECOWAS chairman is held this year by Nigerian President Bola Tinubu.