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Ecowas meeting: The group discussed its sanctions at an extraordinary summit in Nigeria

Photo: Kola Sulaimon / AFP

About seven months after the coup in Niger, the West African community of states Ecowas has lifted most of its punitive measures against the country.

Economic, trade and travel sanctions against the interior country would be ended with immediate effect, Commission President Omar Alieu Touray said on Saturday in Nigeria's capital Abuja.

“The heads of state and government have considered it important and necessary to lift the sanctions for purely humanitarian reasons,” said Touray.

Nevertheless, Ecowas maintains its “zero tolerance for unconstitutional changes of government.”

In Niger, the military, under the leadership of ex-Presidential Guard chief Abdourahamane Tiani, deposed the democratically elected President Mohamed Bazoum on July 26, 2023.

The coup triggered a serious diplomatic crisis in the region: Ecowas, among other things, imposed several sanctions and even decided on military intervention to restore constitutional order in the country - which, however, never materialized.

The punitive measures against Niger, which have now been lifted, included the closure of borders with member countries, the blocking of banking transactions, a ban on overflights for Nigerien aircraft and the freezing of Nigerien bank balances.

Nigeria had also cut off the electricity supply to Niger, on which the neighboring landlocked country was largely dependent.

The trade sanctions had a severe impact on the approximately 27 million inhabitants of Niger, one of the poorest countries in the world.

The other political and individual sanctions against Niger and the other military-ruled member states Mali, Burkina Faso and Guinea remained in place after coups, Touray said.

The states thus remain suspended from the Ecowas institutions.

At the end of January, Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso announced their withdrawal from the community of states, which, according to the statutes, will take effect at the end of January 2025.