Senegal’s President Urges Dialogue With Sahel Military Juntas

SENEGALESE President and West Africa’s ECOWAS “facilitator” Bassirou Diomaye Faye called Monday for dialogue and peaceful reconciliation with three countries that recently split from the bloc.

The military leaders of Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso broke away from the Economic Community of West African States earlier this year and formed a confederation of their own on Saturday.

ECOWAS heads of state met in Abuja on Sunday and deplored the “lack of progress in interactions” with Burkinabe, Malian and Nigerien authorities, who came to power in a series of recent coups.

“We cannot stand idly by”, Senegal’s President Faye said in a video posted Monday.

“Our responsibility is to work on bringing everyone closer and reconciliation — to ensure there is room for dialogue”, he said, vowing that the bloc will work towards peace.

The three countries’ decision to leave was fuelled in part by their accusation that France was manipulating ECOWAS and not providing enough support for anti-jihadist efforts.

ECOWAS has warned the region faced “disintegration”, though its efforts to bring the seceding countries closer so far have failed.

Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger have called their withdrawals “irreversible”.

ECOWAS appointed Senegal’s president as a “facilitator” in negotiations with the three states, alongside Togolese President Faure Gnassingbe.

President Faye stressed that, on paper, Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger remain members for another year, as per article 91 of the organisation’s founding treaty.

“I hope that by the end of the (one-year) notice period, we will have had enough conversations to reconcile views and strengthen the organisation so that it can better tackle our shared challenges,” Faye said.

ECOWAS announced on Sunday that it would draft an “prospective emergency plan” to “address any contingency” in the tense relations with the breakaway countries.

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