ECOWAS lifts economic, travel sanctions on Niger, others


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The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has lifted sanctions imposed on the Niger Republic, Mali, Burkina Faso, and the Republic of Guinea-Bissau, member states that are ruled by the military, according to The Cable report.

The ECOWAS officials said on Saturday [Feb. 24], that the decision was based on humanitarian concerns, particularly given the Lent season and the approaching month of Ramadan.

The West African regional bloc has invited all four countries to an imminent meeting.

The bloc has eased the sanctions it placed on Niger after the military takeover last year. The move forms part of a renewed drive for diplomacy following a series of political crises in the area in recent months.

“ECOWAS lifts economic sanctions, border closures, commercial flights and overflights of the country with immediate effect,” the West African regional bloc posted on X.

A no-fly zone and border closures were among the sanctions being lifted “with immediate effect,” the president of the ECOWAS Commission, Omar Alieu Touray, said on Saturday, Aljazeera reported.

The lifting of the sanctions is “on purely humanitarian grounds” to ease the suffering caused as a result, Touray told reporters after the bloc’s summit in the Nigerian capital, Abuja.

The summit aimed to address existential threats facing the region as well as implore three military-led nations that have quit the bloc—Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso—to rescind their decision.

Following recent coups, all three member states exited the bloc.

Military rulers of Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso announce withdrawal from ECOWAS
ECOWAS chairman and Nigerian President Bola Tinubu said in his opening address that the bloc “must re-examine our current approach to the quest for constitutional order in four of our Member States”, referring to the three suspended countries, as well as Guinea, which is also military-led.

Bola Tinubu, Nigerian & ECOWAS president

Tinubu urged Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso to “reconsider the decision” and said they should “not perceive our organisation as the enemy.”

Niger’s President Bazoum was toppled in a military coup in July, causing ECOWAS to restrict trade and impose sanctions on the country.

Reports suggest he is still imprisoned at Niamey’s Presidential Palace. On the eve of the conference, his lawyers petitioned ECOWAS to demand his release.

Earlier this week, ECOWAS co-founder and former Nigerian military leader General Yakubu Gowon reportedly called for the body to lift “all sanctions that have been imposed on Burkina Faso, Guinea, Mali and Niger”.

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