Niger: West African states lift a large part of sanctions

Niger: West African states lift a large part of sanctions

The heads of state of the member countries of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) meeting on Saturday in Abuja decided to lift a large part of the sanctions against Niger.

ECOWAS “has decided to lift with immediate effect” the heaviest sanctions imposed on Niger since the seizure of power in Niamey by a military regime which overthrew elected President Mohamed Bazoum in July, announced Omar Alieu Touray, president of the ECOWAS Commission on Saturday afternoon.

Niger’s borders and airspace will be reopened, financial transactions between ECOWAS countries and Niger will be authorized again, and Niger state assets will be unfrozen. “for humanitarian reasons”declared Omar Alieu Touray.

“Individual and political sanctions remain in place,” he added without giving further details.

He also called for “immediate release” of the deposed Nigerien president Mohamed Bazoum, detained with his wife by the military regime for seven months.

Mali, Burkina Faso and Guinea, also led by military regimes and under ECOWAS sanctions, are not affected by these announcements.

“Review our approach”

The regional organization had convened a new extraordinary summit on Saturday to discuss “politics, peace and security in the Republic of Niger”, it announced the day before in a press release, as well as “recent developments in the region “.

“We must review our approach to the return of constitutional order in four of our member countries”declared in the introduction the Nigerian President Bola Ahmed Tinubu who holds the presidency of ECOWAS, in reference to Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and Guinea.

These sanctions have hit this Sahelian country hard, where the extreme poverty rate exceeds 40% according to the World Bank.

ECOWAS first threatened the new regime in Niamey with military intervention, before backing down.

Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso, which notably turned their backs on France and moved closer to Russia, have grouped together within an Alliance of Sahel States (AES).

The three countries announced in January their intention to leave ECOWAS.

In mid-February, the head of the Nigerien military regime, General Abdourahamane Tiani, spoke of the possible creation of a common currency with Burkina Faso and Mali, as a “exit stage” of the “colonization”.

The announcement of the withdrawal of Burkina Faso, Nigerien and Malian from ECOWAS, arouses the concern of hundreds of thousands of nationals of these countries, individuals or traders.

ECOWAS in fact guarantees citizens of the 15 member countries to be able to travel without a visa and to establish themselves in member countries to work or reside there.


The last meeting of ECOWAS members was on February 9 when they called for “reconciliation” with the military regimes of Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso and urged them to remain in the regional bloc.

ECOWAS is also being tested by the political crisis that Senegal is experiencing since the postponement of the presidential election by Head of State Macky Sall, but this subject was not mentioned on Saturday.

The Senegalese president, who did not attend the previous summit, is present this time, two days after announcing that he would end his mandate when it expires on April 2 but without having set a new date for the presidential election.

The vote was initially scheduled to be held on February 25 but President Macky Sall postponed it at the beginning of February, plunging Senegal into one of the worst political crises in its post-independence history, causing great concern in the ranks of ECOWAS.

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