Niger, Mali, and Burkina Faso have declared their departure from the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas).

These nations, currently under junta leadership, were previously suspended from the organisation, which has been pressing for their return to democratic governance.

The decision to withdraw from Ecowas, characterised as a “sovereign choice,” was jointly announced by the three governments, all of which were founding members of the bloc established in 1975.

In a collective statement broadcast on state media in the respective countries, they stated that Ecowas had deviated from the ideals of its founding fathers and the spirit of Pan-Africanism.

But in a quick rejoinder, Ecowas said it had not received formal notification from the three countries regarding their withdrawal.

According to the Ecowas treaty, member states intending to withdraw are required to provide written notice a year in advance and continue to adhere to the treaty’s provisions during that period.

The Juntas, in a statement Sunday, further criticised Ecowas, claiming it had come under the influence of foreign powers and strayed from its founding principles, thereby posing a threat to member states and their populations.

The junta-led countries argued that the bloc had failed to assist them in addressing the challenges posed by jihadist violence within their borders.

Tensions between Ecowas and the three nations escalated following military coups in Niger (July), Burkina Faso (2022), and Mali (2020).

Despite Ecowas urging a return to civilian rule in all three countries, the recent withdrawal announcement was met with a response from the bloc.

Ecowas insists that Niger, Mali, and Burkina Faso are significant members of the Community, and it remains committed to seeking a negotiated solution to the political impasse.

Additional reporting by BBC.