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Nigeria: ECOWAS discusses democratic transitions and security

Nigeria: ECOWAS discusses democratic transitions and security
Members await the arrival of dignitaries during a joint press conference by   -  
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Ben Curtis/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved


Four countries of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) discussed democratic transitions and security in the region in Nigeria on Tuesday, the organization said.

Nigerian President Bola Tinubu, who was elected ECOWAS President last Sunday, held talks in Abuja with officials from Niger, Guinea-Bissau and Benin.

They notably discussed security in Mali after the withdrawal of the UN mission (MINUSMA), created in 2013 to support the country threatened by the jihadist push.

At the end of June, the UN Security Council put an end to the MINUSMA peacekeeping mission at the request of the Malian military junta, which is critical of Westerners and which has moved closer to Russia.

Three of the 15 member countries of ECOWAS – Mali, Burkina Faso, and Guinea – are today ruled by military juntas, after a recent series of military coups (five since 2020).

At the same time, the jihadist groups Al-Qaeda and Islamic State have gained ground in the Sahel, extending their attacks south to countries in the Gulf of Guinea.

Supported by Niger, Nigeria, Benin, and Guinea-Bissau have set up a tripartite commission to find alternative security solutions after the withdrawal of the UN mission in Mali, including the possible deployment of soldiers from countries of ECOWAS.

On behalf of this task force, the President of Benin, Patrice Talon, will soon travel to Mali, Burkina Faso, and Guinea to discuss security and democratic transitions after the coups, indicated Omar Alieu Touray, President of the ECOWAS Commission, to the press in Abuja.

The four countries meeting in Abuja "reaffirmed their support for rapid democratic transitions in these countries", he added. In terms of security, "they are committed to providing a solid response", referring to the possible deployment of troops from ECOWAS countries, he added, without further details.

Last December, the ECOWAS countries decided to create a regional force dedicated to intervening not only against jihadism but also in the event of a coup. But few details have emerged since about its Constitution and funding, which still need to be clarified.

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