UPDATE - West African bloc calls for unity after new breakaway Sahel alliance

UPDATE - West African bloc calls for unity after new breakaway Sahel alliance

ECOWAS holds ordinary summit in Nigeria's capital, re-elects President Bola Tinubu as chairman


By Timothy Olanrewaju

LAGOS, Nigeria (AA) - The Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) on Sunday called tor unity among members to tackle terrorism and violent extremism, as three Sahel nations formed a defense alliance and severed ties with the regional bloc.

Leaders of ECOWAS met on Sunday after three military-ruled nations of Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger on Saturday signed a pact to form a coalition called the Alliance of Sahel States. They withdrew from ECOWAS in January after the regional bloc’s tough stand against coups.

In his opening address at the bloc's 65th ordinary session in Abuja, Nigerian President Bola Tinubu, who is also the ECOWAS chairman, said insecurity has spread to all parts of the region. "We are aware of enormous challenges including terrorist activities and violent extremism threatening to spread from Sahel region to all the coastal states."

He called for a "strong political will" and financial commitment of member states to the operation and success of the regional standby force reintroduced in late 2023 following the overthrow of a civil government in Niger. Tinubu, whose first tenure is to end on July 9, was also reelected unanimously.

ECOWAS imposed sanctions on the military administration in Niger following the July 26, 2023 coup, and expressed strong rejection of military rule in Burkina Faso.

In his remarks, African Union's Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security Bankole Adeoye condemned the withdrawal of the three Sahel nations from ECOWAS. "The withdrawal by three countries is unacceptable to the African Union and we believe in one ECOWAS," he said.

Adeoye described ECOWAS as a pacesetter for peace, and a dominant force to implement African solutions for Africans, and upholding constitutional order.

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