ECOWAS Lifts Sanctions on Niger, Calls for Regional Dialogue Amid Political Upheaval


ECOWAS has decided to lift most of the sanctions imposed on Niger following last year’s coup, signaling a new attempt at dialogue amidst political upheaval in the region. The decision, announced by the president of the ECOWAS Commission, Omar Alieu Touray, includes lifting the no-fly zone and border closures “on purely humanitarian grounds” to alleviate the suffering caused by the sanctions.

The summit held in Abuja aimed to address the pressing issues facing the region and urged the military-led nations of Niger, Mali, and Burkina Faso, which have withdrawn from ECOWAS, to reconsider their decision and return to the bloc. ECOWAS Chairman, Nigerian President Bola Tinubu, emphasized the need to reassess the approach to restoring constitutional order in member states facing political crises.

While most sanctions on Niger have been lifted, some targeted and political sanctions remain in place, with ECOWAS calling for the immediate release of President Mohamed Bazoum and his family, who were deposed in last year’s coup. The easing of sanctions is viewed as a gesture of appeasement to encourage the three states to reconsider their withdrawal, as their exit could disrupt regional integration efforts and economic flows.

Despite the challenges, ECOWAS remains committed to engaging with the military-led countries, offering them an opportunity to participate in technical discussions while not fully reinstating them as heads of state. The formation of the Alliance of Sahel States by Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger has shaken ECOWAS, raising concerns about the organization’s unity and effectiveness in preventing further coups in the region.