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FILE PHOTO: Flags of West African countries pictured at the 64th Ordinary session of the ECOWAS Head of State and Government in Abuja, Nigeria. /CGTN

West African leaders gather in Abuja for crucial talks to confront security challenges

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Leaders from West African states have gathered in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, for the 64th Ordinary session of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Head of State and Government, a crucial summit aimed at tackling pressing regional crises.

This is only the second gathering of the region’s leaders since August, and it comes as security challenges continue to riddle the bloc.

August’s meeting focused on Niger’s tumultuous situation following the July 26 military coup, which unseated Mohamed Bazoum from the presidency.

Since his ouster, Bazoum has been confined to his residence in the capital, Niamey.

Responding to the developments in Niger, ECOWAS leaders not only threatened military intervention but also implemented hefty economic and financial sanctions on Niger, – currently under the rule of General Abdourahamane Tiani.

The West African bloc committed to restoring constitutional order, applied financial and economic sanctions. However, in a swift turn, it’s president Omar Touray, speaking at the summit’s opening on December 10, revealed breaches in the sanctions.

“Despite our successful application, concerns arise from breaches, including substantial movement of cash across borders,” Touray stated.

Among the fifteen ECOWAS member countries, four — Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, and Guinea — have been under military rule since 2020 due to coups d’état, leading to their suspension from the organization. Notably, these nations are absent from Sunday’s summit.

The three aforementioned countries, grappling with jihadist violence, have united under the Alliance of Sahel States (AES).

Meanwhile, another ECOWAS member, Sierra Leone, faced a recent failed coup, resulting in the tragic loss of over 20 lives, as reported by state officials.

The stakes are high as ECOWAS leaders strategize to address these multifaceted challenges and ensure regional stability.

(By Kelechi Emekalam)

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