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With Senegal in political turmoil, fractured West African bloc appeals for unity

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Senegal’s President Macky Sall
| Photo Credit: AP

West Africa’s regional bloc appealed for unity on after emergency talks on the withdrawal of three coup-hit international locations from the group.

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) extraordinary session additionally addressed President Macky Sall’s resolution to delay elections in Senegal, a significant concern for the area that got here only a week after Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger declared their departure.

The chairman of the ECOWAS Mediation and Security Council urged the three international locations to not go away, warning their exit would “bring more hardship and do more harm to common citizens”.

“We are stronger together as a community,” Yusuf Maitama Tuggar stated as West African international and defence ministers attended the council assembly in Nigeria’s capital Abuja.

Senegal’s ministers attended, however representatives for Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger and Guinea, all suspended from ECOWAS following coups, weren’t current.

ECOWAS Commission president Omar Alieu Touray additionally urged the bloc to stay united, saying “if there is a time for ECOWAS to stay together, this is the time”.

Council members left to carry personal talks earlier than they returned greater than six hours later and ended the session with out offering a transparent assertion on what measures – if any – they’d take.

Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger introduced their joint withdrawal from ECOWAS final month, worsening a diplomatic headache for the bloc, which up till then had 15 members.

The three have stated they intend to depart instantly, regardless of ECOWAS’s requirement that international locations wait a 12 months earlier than quitting.

Benin’s President Patrice Talon stated he was “saddened” by their alternative to depart.

Crisis in Senegal

Mr. Touray additionally known as current turmoil in Senegal an extra “worrying development”.

The nation plunged into its worst political disaster in many years this weekend when Sall postponed the February 25 vote to December simply hours earlier than campaigning was set to start.

Lawmakers voted virtually unanimously in favour of the delay on Monday, however solely after safety forces stormed the chamber and eliminated some opposition members, who had been unable to vote.

Observers expressed concern at occasions in certainly one of ECOWAS’s most influential and secure members, elevating fears of knock-on results within the area.

ECOWAS, the United States and European Union have urged Senegal to return to its election timetable, however critics have questioned the regional bloc’s sway over more and more defiant member states.

In a press release, ECOWAS cautioned Senegal towards jeopardising “peace and stability” throughout troublesome occasions for West Africa – nevertheless it was unclear what the bloc would do if Mr. Sall defied its warning.

The turmoil has additionally introduced the just about 50-year-old bloc’s broader function into doubt – particularly after its warning of navy intervention in Niger final 12 months fizzled out with no signal the nation’s toppled president is nearer to being restored.

With its repute at stake, ECOWAS’s dealing with of the most recent political upheaval is being intently watched.

The bloc can impose commerce sanctions, because it has towards Mali and Niger following their coups.

But the sanctions have hit residents exhausting and navy regimes stay in place.

Experts additionally say that whereas Senegal could also be enjoying with hearth, it’s nonetheless a great distance off the stage the place ECOWAS is more likely to impose monetary penalties.

Mr. Touray advised AFP that ministers on the assembly in Abuja had not mentioned sanctioning Senegal.

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