Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS)


  • Recently, West African leaders were due to meet in Ghana to discuss a response to Mali’s second coup in nine months, which has sparked warnings of fresh sanctions and deep concerns over stability in the volatile Sahel region.

  • Mali’s new President arrived in Accra for preliminary talks ahead of the extraordinary summit of regional bloc ECOWAS.

About Mali’s Crisis

  • The 2021 Malian coup d’état began on the night of 24 May 2021 when the Malian Army led by Vice President captured President, Prime Minister and Minister of Defence.
  • It is the country’s third coup d’état in ten years, following the 2012 and 2020 military takeovers with the latter having happened only nine months earlier.
  • Col Goïta was installed as transitional vice-president – a recognition of the army’s still powerful influence. 
  • It took weeks of negotiation before the terms for a transition back to democratic rule were finally agreed between the coup leaders and mediators from the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas), the regional bloc to which Mali belongs.
  • But resolving the conundrum posed by this latest military intervention – which began when soldiers arrested could prove rather more awkward for Ecowas
  • Mali began to edge forward. There were still serious problems – hardly a surprise in a country struggling to contain jihadist attacks across the far north and broker local deals to end inter-communal violence between farming and herding communities in its central regions.
  • There were complaints about the performance of the transitional government, while opposition political parties felt they had been marginalised.
  • Moreover, if Mali is governed by a regime that is not internationally recognised as legitimate, that could severely hamper collaboration between the Malian army and the French and other European military forces now deployed in the country in operations against the jihadists.

International Response

  • The coup has been condemned by the international community.
  • The United Nations, through its MINUSMA peacekeeping mission, quickly condemned the coup and called for calm across the nation. António Guterres, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, called for calm and the release of the prisoners.
  • The President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and head of the African Union, “strongly condemned any action that aims to destabilise Mali”. French Foreign Minister also condemned the coup, saying “France condemns with the greatest firmness the violent act that occurred in Mali yesterday.”
  • In addition, the United Nations, ECOWAS, the European Union, the United States, and the African Union issued a joint statement condemning the coup and call for the release of the politicians. West African officials are assessing the situation and describe it as an “attempted coup”.
  • The European Union and the U.S. State Department threatened sanctions

Back to Basics


  • It is a regional political and economic union of fifteen countries located in West Africa.
  • Established in 1975, with the signing of the Treaty of Lagos.
  • The goal of ECOWAS is to achieve “collective self-sufficiency” for its member states by creating a single large trade bloc by building a full economic and trading union.
  • It also serves as a peacekeeping force in the region.
  • Considered one of the pillar regional blocs of the continent-wide African Economic Community (AEC).
  • ECOWAS is meant to be a region governed in accordance with the principles of democracy, rule of law and good governance.
  • The member countries of ECOWAS comprises: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Cote d’ Ivoire, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Senegal and Togo.

ECOWAS includes two sub-regional blocs:

  1. The West African Economic and Monetary Union is an organisation of eight, mainly French-speaking states.
  2. The West African Monetary Zone (WAMZ), established in 2000, comprises six mainly English-speaking countries.

Source: BBC

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