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ECOWAS Lifts Sanctions On Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso

“The sanctions that we contemplated might help lead our brothers to the negotiating table have become a harsh stumbling block”

The Economic Community of West African States has lifted the sanctions imposed on Niger Republic, Mali and Burkina Faso, which are the member nations ruled by the military.

The Chairman of ECOWAS, President Bola Tinubu said the decision was based on humanitarian considerations, especially because of the Lenten period and the approaching month of Ramadan.

The regional bloc also lifted sanctions on the Republic of Guinea-Bissau.

According to a statement by the presidential spokesperson, Ajuri Ngelale, Tinubu who spoke at the extraordinary summit of ECOWAS held in Abuja on Saturday, said the sanctions which were thought to “help lead our brothers to the negotiating table have become a harsh stumbling block.”

“Everything we did was in hopes of 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 pursuant to formal regional treaty and protocol,” the statement quoted Tinubu as saying.

“However, the sanctions that we contemplated might help lead our brothers to the negotiating table have become a harsh stumbling block. In my mind and heart, that which is hurtful yet ineffective serves no good purpose and should be abandoned.

“ECOWAS was established for the unassailable objective of improving the lives of the people of this region through fraternal cooperation among all member states. This edifice was cemented on the strong foundation and apt conviction that, united as one, we can be the true masters of our destiny.”

Additionally, Tinubu stated that the actions taken by ECOWAS were motivated by the shared values of the region, which include social stability, democratic governance, political freedom, security, widespread prosperity, and sustained economic development achieved by providing equal opportunities to all West Africans.

He added that there was never any aim to discourage or undermine the legitimate political aspirations of any member state or to further the interests of any outside party, and that neither animosity nor hidden motives had any bearing on the actions taken.

In calling for the suspension of sanctions, Tinubu said: “We must take note of the approach of the holy month of Ramadan and of Lent.”

“Whether you pray in the mosque or in the church, this represents a time for compassion, hope, and harmony. It is a time that we must not only seek God but also a closer relationship with brother and neighbour,” the president said.m

“In the Spirit of the holy month and of the Lenten period, and with hearts bestirred by goodwill towards all our people, let us extend a hand as brothers and friends to those in Niger, Mali, Burkina Faso, and Guinea.

“What I suggest in real and practical terms is that we, my colleagues and fellow heads of state in ECOWAS, indefinitely suspend economic sanctions against Niger, Mali, Guinea and Burkina Faso and against the leadership of the military authorities in those nations.”

The President requested that ECOWAS allow food, medicine, and other humanitarian supplies to reach the people of these countries without hindrance, especially the most vulnerable.

He added that for Nigeria, “this will also mean the prompt resumption of the export of electric power to Niger”.

“In this vein, suspension of sanctions is an important but initial step. What we seek is more than the breaking of the diplomatic logjam. We must use this very moment when things seem tense and progress unavailing, to forge greater cooperation within our community,” he said.

“We not only reach out to our brothers. Today, we say unto them — let us begin to work more earnestly together for the economic development of our people and towards confronting those modern challenges that respect no borders or boundaries.

“Challenges ranging from climate change to violent extremism to illegal pilfering of our precious natural resources require that we join together in progress or we fail separately.

“As leaders of ECOWAS, we have accepted the honour and duty to draft the history of the region and its people during our tenure in office.

“We have also accepted the honour and duty to reach out to our brothers, letting them know this regional home belongs to us all. I shall do my utmost in this regard. I humbly beseech that you do the same.

“For these reasons, we must suspend sanctions and return to brotherly dialogue. I call on the leadership in Burkina Faso, Guinea, Mali, and Niger to embrace the hand extended.”

Chioma Kalu

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