ECOWAS lifts sanctions against Guinea and Mali

ECOWAS lift Mali, Guinea sanctions

After voiding Niger’s sanctions, West Africa’s economic bloc removed Guinea and Mali’s restrictions, according to Africa news and agencies.

The move signals a radical change of heart, given that the bloc was considering military action when some of these countries abandoned all relations with France and underwent their own political upheavals as military juntas took control.

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) released a statement on 25th February declaring the abolition of Guinea’s “financial and economic sanctions” and Mali’s “restrictions on the recruitment of citizens…for positions within ECOWAS institutions.”

Like Niger, the ECOWAS sanctions were imposed in Guinea and Mali after they experienced military coups in 2021 and 2022. Sanctions were also placed on Burkina Faso, a country that shares Mali and Niger’s desire to exit ECOWAS, yet, there was no mention of ending Burkina Faso’s restrictions in the bloc’s final statement.

The Associated Press reported that the lifting of sanctions against Niger was “purely [on] humanitarian ground” to ease the consequential suffering the restrictions caused, such as the devastating debt of $500 million.

However, the restrictions may have been lifted to appease Niger, Mali, and Burkina Faso who recently declared their desires to leave ECOWAS – which would result in a significant and annual  loss of around $150 billion to the bloc.

Following the ECOWAS restrictions, in September 2023, Niger, Mali, and Burkina Faso formed the Association of Sahel States (AES) to condemn the bloc’s “illegitimate, inhumane and irresponsible sanctions.”

In a desperate attempt to keep the three junta-led countries within the bloc, president of the ECOWAS Commission, Omar Alieu Touray invited the AES leaders to the “technical and consultative meetings of ECOWAS” and to “all security-related meetings,” instead of routinely excluding them.

As Niger, Mali, and Burkina Faso have turned to favour Russia and disregard French influence, ECOWAS hoped that the lifted restrictions would help resume dialogue with the military regimes.

Although ECOWAS is regarded by many as West Africa’s leading political and economic authority, the trading bloc – much like the AES – still struggle to resolve the constant conflicts in the Sahel as Islamic extremists and rebels contribute towards the growing violence and chronic civil unrest.



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