A weakened West Africa bloc asks Senegalese leader to try to convince breakaway states to return

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ABUJA, Nigeria (AP) — West Africa’s divided regional bloc Sunday asked Senegal’s President Basirou Diomaye Faye to have a dialogue with the three military junta-led member states to try to reunite the region whose stability has been under threat following their decision to leave the group in January.

At its summit in Nigeria’s capital Abuja, the bloc — known as ECOWAS — appointed Faye as its envoy to meet with Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso, which formed their separate union after their respective coups fractured relations with neighbors.

It was not immediately clear what the terms of the dialogue would be. The Senegalese president, who became Africa’s youngest leader after his election victory in March, “has all the credentials required to serve as a facilitator,” Omar Alieu Touray, the president of the ECOWAS Commission, said at the summit.

The three coup-hit countries already said at their summit a day earlier that they have “irrevocably turned their back on ECOWAS.” It is the first time in the bloc’s nearly 50-year history that it has lost members in such a manner.

Analysts viewed Faye’s assignment as important during an unprecedented regional crisis. Still, it will most likely “not be fruitful anytime soon” because of regional tensions that remain, said Karim Manuel, an analyst for the Middle East and Africa with the Economist Intelligence Unit.

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ABUJA, Nigeria (AP) — West Africa’s divided regional bloc Sunday asked Senegal’s President Basirou Diomaye Faye to have a dialogue with the three military junta-led member states to try to reunite the region whose stability has been under threat following their decision to leave the group in January.

At its summit in Nigeria’s capital Abuja, the bloc — known as ECOWAS — appointed Faye as its envoy to meet with Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso, which formed their separate union after their respective coups fractured relations with neighbors.

The three coup-hit countries already said at their summit a day earlier that they have “irrevocably turned their back on ECOWAS.” It is the first time in the bloc’s nearly 50-year history that it has lost members in such a manner.

Still, it will most likely “not be fruitful anytime soon” because of regional tensions that remain, said Karim Manuel, an analyst for the Middle East and Africa with the Economist Intelligence Unit.

ECOWAS — as West Africa’s top political and economic authority — offers free trade and movement without visas within member states.

Nigeria’s President Bola Tinubu, who was asked to continue serving as the bloc’s chairman because his one-year tenure neared its end, called for stronger and new partnerships to develop the region amid its “enormous challenges.”


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