No More Sanctions, You’re Now Free — ECOWAS Tells Niger Republic, Others


BY EDMOND ODOK – With rising concerns over the announced plans by Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger to withdraw from membership of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the regional political and economic union has lifted the sanctions imposed on the three countries.

The development followed long hours of deliberations by the regional leaders at an extraordinary summit on the political, peace, and security situation in the subregion held in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital on Saturday.

President of the ECOWAS Commission, Dr Omar Alieu Touray, announced the sanctions will be lifted with immediate effect after the bloc’s meeting that aimed to address existential threats facing the region as well as implore three junta-led nations that have quit the bloc to rescind their decision.

Dr Touray said aside from suspending the closure of the land and air border to Niger and a no-fly zone of all commercial flights in and out of the landlocked country, the bloc also rescinded the freezing of all financial transactions between ECOWAS states and Niger, including transactions relating to the bloc’s Central Bank and the unfreezing of all of Niger’s assets.

According to him, the decision is “on purely humanitarian grounds” due to lent and the approaching month of Ramadan”, to ease the suffering caused as a result of the sanctions, adding however that; “There are targeted (individual) sanctions as well as political sanctions that remain in force”.

President Bola Tinubu, who is the Chairman of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of the organization, had earlier canvassed the suspension of sanctions imposed on Niger, Mali, Burkina Faso, and Guinea.

Speaking at the Extraordinary Summit of ECOWAS in Abuja, President Tinubu said, the sanctions were aimed at “persuading our brothers that there existed a better path, a path that would lead to genuine improvement of their people’s welfare through democratic good governance. And this was a path each of our nations had solemnly agreed with one another under formal regional treaties and protocols.”

Decisions to be made at the summit “must be guided by our commitment to safeguarding the constitutional order, upholding democratic principles, and promoting the social and economic wellbeing of the citizens,” President Tinubu said at the opening session of the summit.

The Nigerian President further told his colleagues; “We must re-examine our current approach to the quest for constitutional order in our member states,” adding; “I therefore urge them to reconsider the decision … and not to perceive our organization as the enemy”.

While explaining that ECOWAS “took the steps it did based on the regional ideals of security, social stability; democratic governance, political freedom, broad-based prosperity, and sustainable economic development through a fair opportunity for each one in West Africa”, President Tinubu said neither hatred nor hidden motive influenced the steps taken and that there was never any intention to douse or undermine the legitimate political aspirations of any member state or to advance the interests of any outside party.

The ECOWAS Chairman urged the bloc to urgently facilitate the unfettered flow of foodstuffs, medicines, and other humanitarian items to the people of these nations, especially to the most vulnerable, adding that for Nigeria, this will also mean the prompt resumption of export of electric power to Niger.

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