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West Africa’s Brexit Moment Could Fuel Regional Turmoil

The recent withdrawal of Niger, Mali, and Burkina Faso from ECOWAS puts the very existence of the 15-member economic union at risk. To prevent instability from spreading across West Africa, the bloc’s leaders must expand its military capabilities and impose sanctions on autocratic rulers.

PRETORIA – On January 28, Niger, Mali, and Burkina Faso announced their withdrawal from the 15-member Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), from which all three had been suspended following the military coups that overthrew their democratically elected governments. This represents the greatest crisis the bloc has faced since its establishment in 1975.