ECOWAS Eases Sanctions on Guinea and Mali, Signals Shift in Approach
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By The Smartencyclopedia Staff & Agencies

Abuja, Nigeria — The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) announced on Sunday that it is easing sanctions imposed on Guinea and Mali, following a similar decision for Niger, a country also under military rule. The regional bloc had initially imposed sanctions in response to military coups that occurred in these countries between 2020 and 2023.

During an emergency summit on Saturday, ECOWAS decided to lift financial and economic sanctions against Guinea and remove restrictions on the recruitment of Malians for professional positions within the bloc’s institutions. While these measures were not explicitly mentioned in the closing speech by ECOWAS Commission chief Omar Alieu Touray, they were outlined in the bloc’s closing statement.

ECOWAS had previously suspended Guinea, Mali, and Burkina Faso from its membership due to military takeovers in these countries. Financial transactions with ECOWAS member institutions in Guinea were prohibited after Colonel Mamady Doumbouya ousted President Alpha Conde in 2021. Economic and financial sanctions on Mali, which experienced coups in 2020 and 2021, were lifted in 2022 following the military’s announcement of a transition timetable to civilian rule.

In the case of Niger, ECOWAS lifted measures such as a no-fly zone, border closures, and asset freezes on Saturday, citing humanitarian grounds. This decision followed a coup in Niger last year that ousted elected leader Mohamed Bazoum. However, political and individual sanctions against Niger remain in effect.

The move by ECOWAS indicates a willingness to engage in dialogue with military regimes within its member states. Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso have recently expressed their intention to leave the bloc and have formed an alliance while seeking closer ties with Russia, which aims to enhance its influence in Africa. The evolving geopolitical dynamics in the region are prompting ECOWAS to reevaluate its approach to constitutional order in member states, as highlighted by Nigerian President Bola Ahmed Tinubu at the summit in Abuja. Nigeria currently holds the rotating chairmanship of ECOWAS.

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