Recently, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) eased some of the sanctions imposed on Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso after military juntas ousted civilian governments.

ECOWAS Meeting
ECOWAS Meeting

The sanctions included a no-fly zone and border closures, and they were lifted “with immediate effect” during ECOWAS’s summit in Abuja.

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Tensions had arisen between ECOWAS and the three countries since coups occurred in Mali (2020), Burkina Faso (2022), and Niger (July 26, 2023), leading to their suspension from ECOWAS.

The trio formed an Alliance of Sahel States, expressing dissatisfaction with ECOWAS’s treatment and accusing the body of aligning with external powers at the expense of the sub-region’s interests.

ECOWAS Chairman, President Bola Tinubu, urged Niger, Mali, and Burkina Faso to reconsider their withdrawal and not perceive the organization as an enemy.

Some critics faulted the Economic Community of West African States’s handling of the situation, emphasizing its inability to assist the affected countries in resolving the internal crises that triggered the coups.

ECOWAS responded by expressing confidence in its diplomatic engagements to resolve the matter. Notably, retired General Yakubu Gowon, a founder of the Economic Community of West African States, urged leaders to reunite for the peace, stability, and prosperity of the sub-region.

the Economic Community of West African States lifted sanctions based on considerations such as regional unity during Lent and Ramadan, pleas from leaders like General Gowon, and broader diplomatic, political, trade, immigration, and international affairs cooperation.

The decision has faced criticism, with concerns that it may be perceived as a weakness, especially since the ousted countries haven’t shown remorse or engaged in dialogue.

Russia has taken advantage of the situation, offering support to the regimes and establishing a presence in the sub-region. Some suggest that the Economic Community of West African States should reinvent itself and provide compelling structures to retain members.

However, others argue for diplomatic efforts to achieve reconciliation and reintegration. A united Economic Community of West African States is seen as the preferred option for both sides.

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