West African leaders make u-turn on tough measures against Niger, Mali, Burkina Faso coupists

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) on Saturday lifted sanctions it imposed on Niger Republic over the unconstitutional takeover of government from the sitting civilian President Mohamed Bazoum in that country on July 26, 2023.

Penpushing reports that the West Africa leaders made the announcement of the lifting of the sanctions at the end of the Extraordinary Session of the Heads of State and Government of Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) member countries held in Abuja, Nigeria

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Commission’s Chairman, Omar Touray who announced position of the session explained that the decision was based on humanitarian considerations, the socio-economic impacts of the sanctions on Nigeriens and the security of the sub-region.

‘The Authority calls for the immediate release of former President Bazoum and also calls on the transition authorities in Niger to provide an acceptable transition timetable to constitutional order’, he said.

‘The Authority has resolved to lift with immediate effect sanctions imposed on Niger and has lifted the closure of land and air borders between it and ECOWAS member countries. No-Fly-Zone of all commercial flights to and from Niger is to be lifted. Suspension of all commercial and financial transactions between ECOWAS member states and Niger are to be lifted’, Touray stated.

‘Freezing of all service transactions including utility services is to be lifted. Freezing of assets of Niger in ECOWAS Central Bank is to be lifted. Freezing of assets of Niger and the state’s enterprises and parastatals in commercial banks is to be lifted,’’ he added

Penpushing further reports that the meeting said Niger Republic had equally been exempted from suspension of all financial assistance and transactions as well as travel ban placed on its officials and their family members.

The commission’s chairman explained that humanitarian considerations on the Lenten period and the upcoming holy month of Ramadan contributed to the lifting of the sanctions, stressing that the authority also lifted sanctions regarding the recruitment of Malian citizens in statutory and professional positions within Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS)

‘The Authority has also resolved to lift financial and economic sanctions on the Republic of Guinea. It instructed the President of the Commission to invite Burkina Faso, Niger, Mali and Guinea to attend the technical, consultative and security meetings of ECOWAS. The authority calls on ECOWAS institutions, member states and other regional institutions to implement these decisions’, Touray said.

Penpushing also reports that the West Africa leaders on the withdrawal by Burkina Faso, Niger and Mali from Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) explained that the authority urged the countries to reconsider their decision.

The chairman of the commission stated that this was in view of the benefits that the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) member states and their citizens enjoy in the community.

‘The authority expressed its concern over the socio- economic, political, security and humanitarian impacts of the decision, particularly on the citizens of the three countries and on regional integration process’, he said.

‘The Authority further urges the three member states to resort to dialogue, negotiations and mediation to address their concerns. The Authority urges the three member states to adhere to the provisions of the 1993 revised treaty on withdrawal from the subregional body’, Touray added.

‘They should particularly consider the treaty relating to withdrawal, particularly the article that encourages ECOWAS to sustain its rapprochement and overtures towards the member states’, he emphasised.

Penpushing reports that the session added that the authority encouraged outreaches with traditional and religious leaders, eminent personalities, civil society and women leaders for the unity and security of the region.

‘The Authority reiterated the urgent need for ECOWAS to expedite the operations of its standby force to fight against terrorism in the sub-region, including the elements of the Multinational Joint Task Force and the Accra initiative’.

‘In this regard, the Authority instructed the commission to convene the meeting of ministers of finance and defence to propose modalities for financing and equipping counterterrorism efforts’, the statement said.

Penpushing further reports that it is recalled that in July 2023 Niger’s Republic Presidential guard removed and detained democratically-elected President Mohamed Bazoum, a military putsch which was the fifth successful one in the country since its independence from France in 1960.

The Malian soldiers in similar development stage a coup on August 18, 2020; while that of Burkina Faso was on September 30 of the same year, as well of that of Guinea took place on September 5, 2021, and in the Guinean coup, President Alpha Condé was captured and detained by the country’s armed forces.

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