Senegal leader Faye tasked with keeping Ecowas alive

Senegal's President Bassirou Diomaye Faye poses prior to a working lunch with France's President Emmanuel Macron at the Elysee Palace on June 20, 2024 in Paris, France The presidents met to discuss French-Senegalese relations after they attended a global forum for vaccine innovation. (Photo by Chesnot/Getty Images)

SENEGAL President Bassirou Diomaye Faye has been given the difficult charge of convincing military leaders of three nations not to withdraw from the regional economic bloc, said Bloomberg News.

Faye was appointed as an envoy of the Economic Community of West African States at an Ecowas summit in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, on Sunday.

They met as the heads of the juntas in Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso signed a treaty in neighboring Niger’s capital, Niamey, to form a confederation that seeks to boost political and economic ties, the newswire said.

In January, the three nations withdrew from Ecowas, placing them at risk of losing access to a $702bn market, and exposing them to increased tariffs and restrictions on the movement of goods and financial flows. Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger have been suspended from the bloc following the coups.

Their withdrawal from the bloc “will deal a heavy blow to security cooperation” and the fight against Islamist insurgents across the sub-region, Bloomberg News cited Ecowas Commission President Omar Touray as saying. They will lose access to funding, a regional market of 400 million people and risk “the suspension of all projects and programs implemented by Ecowas in their countries valued at more than $500m,” he said.

Instability has spread across West Africa’s Sahel region and now threatens coastal states Ghana and Ivory Coast, more than a decade after France deployed troops to Mali to end an Islamist insurgency there, said Bloomberg News. With a record of more than 11,600 fatalities linked to jihadist violence in 2023, the Sahel is now the epicenter for terrorist attacks globally, it said.

“We must do everything to avoid their withdrawal from Ecowas,” Faye said on Sunday.