Mauritania pulls out of ECOWAS

Mauritania has formally withdrawn from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) bringing membership down to 15 countries, officials said on Thursday.

“They (Mauritanians) gave a one-year notice of their decision to quit in December last year, and it officially lapsed on Tuesday,” an official of the regional economic grouping told IRIN.

The withdrawal of Mauritania, which is a member of the north African Maghreb Union, leaves ECOWAS which was founded in 1975 to boost regional economic integration with 16 members comprising former French, British and Portuguese colonies. Community citizens are allowed free entry and exit without the requirement of visas for up to 90 days. They also have the right to establishment. Mauritania, whose citizens trade in many West African countries and beyond, is likely to lose these rights except where it is covered by separate bilateral agreements.

Member countries are Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Cote d’Ivoire, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea and Guinea-Bissau. Others are Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo.