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BREAKING: ECOWAS Lifts Sanctions on Niger, Burkina Faso, Others as it Considers Dialogue

President Tinubu, the chairman of the commission, 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 Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is lifting sanctions imposed on Niger, Guinea, Burkina Faso and Mali over recent unrests and coups that led to a series of political crises in the region in the past few months.

Delivering an address at the Extra-ordinary Summit of ECOWAS in Abuja on Saturday, February 24, 2024, Nigeria’s president, Bola Tinubu, who is the Chairman of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of the organization reiterated why the regional bloc took the decision in the first place.

“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,” President Tinubu said.

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According to President Tinubu, the sanctions were measures that the bloc thought could help restore the countries back to democratic governance and encourage negotiations and dialogue. However, the sanctions, according to him, have become harsh.

“..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,” Tinubu said while emphasizing the main objective for the establishment of ECOWAS.

“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.”

The President further explained 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 fair opportunity for each and every one in West Africa.

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He 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.

In calling for the suspension of sanctions, President Tinubu stressed that: “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.

“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 asked that ECOWAS 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.

“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.

“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,” the President stated.

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