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Ecowas Co-Founder Urges Bloc to Lift Sanctions On Niger, Mali, Burkina Faso

Mr. Gowon expressed his concerns about recent developments in the regional body in an open letter.

A former Nigerian Head of State, Yakubu Gowon, who was one of the founders of ECOWAS as Nigeria’s military head of state in May 1975, has asked ECOWAS to lift sanctions imposed on Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso.

Mr. Gowon expressed his concerns about recent developments in the regional body in an open letter. The letter dated February 13 was published by Nigeria’s Premium Times on Wednesday.

“All West African leaders” should “immediately consider the lifting of all sanctions that have been imposed on Burkina Faso, Guinea, Mali and Niger, ” he wrote.

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Following recent coups in West Africa, ECOWAS imposed economic sanctions on countries that had been taken over by the military as a deterrent.

He said it saddens him to learn that ECOWAS is threatened with disunity following the announcement by Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger to withdraw from the subregional bloc.

The three countries announced their withdrawal from ECOWAS on grounds of inhumane and illegal sanctions and went ahead to form a confederation.

The impact, Mr Gowon noted. will have far-reaching implications for the ordinary citizens who have been the major beneficiaries of regional integration.

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He also urged the three nations to rescind their decision to withdraw from the bloc. He urged all 15 member states to hold a summit to discuss the future of the community, regional security and stability, as well as the roles of the international community given the current geopolitical context.

“Therefore, on behalf of all the founding fathers of the Community and myself, I urge the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government, including the leaders of Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger, to put aside their differences and reunite for the peace, stability and prosperity of our sub-region,” the letter read.

Mr Gowon noted that despite the shortcomings of the subregional bloc, ECOWAS has made several major accomplishments including trade liberalisation, the right of West Africans to live legitimately in any country within the community, as well as successful peacekeeping operations.

“ECOWAS is more than a coalition of States, it is a community established for the good of our peoples, based on shared history, culture and tradition. Neither my generation nor present or future generations will understand or forgive the breakup of our Community,” he said.

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